Grenfell Tower: Social housing resident reveals 'segregation' of rich in luxury developments

'Our door is completely separate, it is next to the bins'

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Friday 23 June 2017 18:02 BST
Social housing resident reveals 'segregation' in luxury developments

A council house resident has spoken out about the use of “poor doors” in luxury developments as the state of Britain’s social housing comes under increasing public scrutiny in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The woman, who only identified herself as Jabeen, criticised the deliberate “segregation” of tenants in her development which she said means her children are not allowed to enter the communal garden despite other residents’ dogs being able to make use of the space.

Speaking to LBC’s James O’Brien, she said social housing tenants were forced to enter flats via “poor doors” located next to the bins and had no access to parking or lifts, like the other market-value renters.

“You have to have a separate key to [the garden] and, on top of that, the door to the garden is on the private side so it’s completely away from us,” she said.

“[Market-value renters] are allowed to walk their dogs in the garden; we’re not allowed to let our kids in the garden. Our door is completely separate, it is next to the bins. Look where they've put the other front doors, they've put our front doors next to the bins, it’s so segregated here.”

It follows a government announcement that survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire would be permanently rehoused in a new £2bn development in Kensington.

The Government said 68 social homes would be made available at Kensington Row to families left homeless in the blaze that killed at least 79 people.

The luxurious development will include a 24-hour concierge, a private cinema, a gym and a swimming pool, according to the website of developer St Edward, owned by Berkeley Group.

But social tenants will not have access to these amenities and will be housed in two separate purpose built “affordable housing” blocks at the site that will be different from the luxury apartments on sale.

A source from Berkeley Group said all flats were designed to be “tenure blind” and that the flats will not be differentiable from street level.

But photographs of the development clearly show a more spartan-looking block to one side of the development, which will reportedly house the site's social tenants.

The building on the far left may be one of the blocks reserved for social housing tenants

Radical Housing Network, a campaign group fighting for housing equality, said: “The Kensington Row development had an existing affordable housing quota. In many luxury developments, such as at 1 Commercial Street, residents of 'affordable' housing units are separated from wealthier neighbours by being made to use separate entrances and only having access to limited building services.

"We abhor the way developers of luxury blocks meet 'affordable' housing quotas by designing buildings in which those on low-incomes are kept out of sight from the rich.”

Despite the unimaginable tragedy faced by the survivors, some nearby residents said they would not be happy to see them rehoused in the area.

One mother-of-two, who did not want to be named, told The Independent she was disgusted by the reaction of her neighbours.

“They are saying: 'Have you heard about how they are letting these people who don't work live in luxury apartments?' They are saying that they don't want these people here in their apartments, that they rely too much on the government. They are saying: ‘I pay £5,000 a month to live here’,” she said.

“I just thought oh my god. Haven't these people suffered enough?”

Donna, from Kensington, told LBC radio: “My service charge bill – and it's a low one this year – is £15,500. I would feel really resentful if someone got the same thing for free.

"I feel sorry for those people but my husband and I work very hard to be able to afford this.

"And for someone to get it for free, I would move."

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