John Biggs celebrates ‘Ground Breaking’ low cost housing scheme


John Biggs, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, joined community leaders and others in Mile End today to ‘break ground’ at the site of St Clements Hospital on a new community-led low cost housing scheme.

Last year, locals were successful after 10 years campaigning in setting up Britain’s first urban land trust for low-cost housing when the East London Community Land Trust were given the go ahead to redevelop the old St Clements Hospital site in Mile End.

Today’s ground breaking marked the start of building work for more than 250 homes planned for the site including 23 ‘permanently affordable’ homes based with the price based on average local incomes, rather than market rates.

The community land trust model means that when houses are sold, the Trust keeps ownership of the land. Families who then move on must sell homes back to the trust so a new generation of local people can benefit.

St Clements, originally built as a workhouse in the late 1800s, later saw use as a psychiatric hospital.

Dave Smith, Director of East London Community Land Trust, said:

"House prices across the capital are going up as fast as 15% a year, whilst wages are only rising by a fraction of that and local families are getting forced out.  But by building homes whereby the house price is permanently linked to local wages in the area, our homes will be affordable not just in the first instance but to every generation to come."

John Biggs, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, added:

"On behalf of Ken Livingstone as London Mayor and as Vice Chair of the London Development Agency, I signed the original agreement with London Citizens to build at least 100 homes through a community land trust model as a part of the Olympic legacy. This scheme represents a down payment towards that goal. If I become mayor of Tower Hamlets I will be looking at imaginative ways we can provide more affordable homes for local people being squeezed out of our borough by high prices." 

Rachael Saunders, Labour councillor for Mile End, said:

"The St Clements CLT is an innovative idea that will give local people the power to maintain the affordability of a number of homes in Mile End - we need more of these opportunities.  We are still pushing for a workable community and arts space on the site - I hope Boris will support our funding bids after the cameras are gone today".

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