'Dickensian' poor doors separating wealthy tenants should be banned, says commission

Many new housing developments are being built so that wealthy tenants are segregated from poorer renters

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The Independent Online

Developers should be banned from the “Dickensian” practice of having separate “poor doors” for social housing tenants, according to a new report.

Many new housing developments are being built so that wealthy tenants are segregated from poorer renters. In London, new buildings often boast swanky reception areas for their rich tenants and a utilitarian side entrance for those in cheaper flats. Private developers have to show they have catered to the growing need for affordable and social housing. Yet the practice of dividing residents according to how much they paymakes society less integrated, according to the Social Integration Commission.

In its final report, the commission says it views the growing trend as a “particularly disquieting – almost Dickensian – development”. It adds: “Poor doors, installed to keep social tenants out of sight of their moreaffluent neighbours, are emblematic not just of a growing divide between the rich and poor but of the way in whichthat gulf is now being built into our physical environment.”

The commission also called on the Government Department of Communities and Local Government to introduce for a requirement policy on councils to have a social mix ing requirement on all new developments. This would force local authorities to consider whether proposed major developments would allow people from different backgrounds to meet and mix - and to reject planning applications from those that do not.

The Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “This is a matter which needs careful scrutiny by local authorities at the planning application stage, taking into account how and where affordable housing provision is provided, and balancing that with the service charges that will be levied on tenants.All tenants, regardless of the type of tenancy,  deserve to be treated fairly and with respect, and councils should use planning powers to ensure that.”