St George-in-the-East rallies for affordable housing alongside Shadwell community

St George-in-the-East rallies for affordable housing alongside Shadwell community

06 February 2024 by Pattie Gercke in Homelessness, Housing.

Right now, we’re facing a national housing crisis. Decent, affordable homes are the foundations for people’s lives, but too many people are being forced to live in high-cost, poor quality housing.

These realities are familiar to the residents of Tower Hamlets where there is a severe shortage of affordable housing. Figures from 2021 show 1 in 6 people are living in overcrowded accommodation. The need for new housing development is acutely felt by members of this community.

Friday 26th January marked an important stage in their 7-year campaign for affordable homes on Cable Street, Shadwell. Local residents came together with the church community of St George-in-the East to celebrate progress made and to make renewed calls for the project to be delivered.

The celebration marked the latest stage in the campaign led by St George-in-the East, as part of Tower Hamlets Citizens, to secure the delivery of affordable housing for 41 families via a community land trust development. The project will help address the significant housing needed in Tower Hamlets.

Over 100 local residents gathered by the site, which is a 2-minute walk from St George-in-the East, alongside the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, and the London Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, Tom Copley. They were joined by students from St Paul’s Whitechapel, a local Church of England primary school, and members of the East London and Darul Ummah Mosques, all of whom have given vital support to the campaign as it has progressed.

Local residents shared testimony of the struggles they face in securing affordable housing, and a prayer was offered by Bishop Sarah in commemoration of the campaign’s progress.

Back in 2018, with support from the London Community Land Trust, local campaigners submitted their pre-planning application for the development of the Cable Street site to the Greater London Authority’s Small Sites Small Builders Programme. In response, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced that the bid had been successful, and the site was blessed by the then new Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, as part of her introduction to the Diocese.

Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, said:

“I first visited this site as part of my formal introduction to the Diocese of London in 2018. Returning on Friday reminded me of what I witnessed in that first visit: the spirit and dedication of those who call Shadwell home.

Housing is an issue that affects every community in London, and parishes across the Diocese of London like St George-in-the-East are at the front of the community response. It is my sincere hope that progress is made soon to realise the ambition of delivering 41 new, affordable and safe homes for local families.”

Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally

Deputy Mayor Copley committed to actively working with the community to support their ambition to have a planning application submitted by the end of 2024 and aim for construction to be well underway by the next Mayoral elections in 2028. All parties expressed their desire for renewed momentum and to get the homes built. The event ended with local residents coming together to sing the famous Madness song ‘Our House’, while a model home was erected in the middle of the site as a sign of what is to come.

Bishop Sarah noted that she will continue to watch this space and hopes to not wait another 5 years before the homes are built.

The Revd Preb Richard Springer, Rector of St George-in-the-East commented:

“Friday’s gathering was an inspiring celebration of our community’s progress and the courage and perseverance demonstrated by local campaigners over the last seven years. Their undeterred resolve, despite facing challenges including the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, has significantly moved the campaign forward.

I would like to thank Bishop Sarah and Tom Copley for attending the event, as well as all the local residents who came together on Friday. We will continue to work with the local community to ensure these homes are built as soon as possible.”

The Revd Preb Richard Springer, Rector of St George-in-the-East
Pattie Gercke

Pattie Gercke

Pattie is the Compassionate Communities Development Worker for Refugee& Aslyum Seeker response, Housing & Homelessness. She has a background in the humanitarian sector and an MA in Development and Emergency Practice. She is passionate about issues of justice, hospitality, and community.

View all posts by Pattie Gercke

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