Campaigners and residents join forces to protest council plans to build on community spaces

More than 60 residents have joined a protest against a council’s controversial housing plans.

A newly set up campaign group, Yes to Fair Development (YFR), marched from council offices in Tooley Street to the Elim Estate on Tuesday to protest Southwark council’s “infill” policy.

The council has put forward plans to build homes on land they own in the borough.

But the proposed sites include playgrounds, ballcourts and open grassy areas, which residents say provide essential outdoor space.

Users of the spaces have said they are part of the design of the densely built flats. 

Janine Below, who lives on the Bells Gardens Estate, said: “There are many ways to build homes but destroying communities already there is not one of them. 

“It’s just a matter of time before Southwark council will have to recognise that infill is just not working.”

Locations include land covering a ballcourt on the Elim Estate, a gap between two blocks on the Whites Ground Estate and a green space near Amina Way on the Eveline Lowe Estate.

YFR have demanded that Southwark build more council homes, but with genuine tenant and resident involvement.

They are also calling for the council to stop unsafe developments, demolitions and sell-offs and to act on the climate emergency immediately.

Tanya Murat, from Southwark Defend Council Housing, said: “More and more estate residents are joining the fight for fair redevelopment. 

“We want a real solution to the housing crisis, to protect and enhance our green spaces and play areas. 

“Don’t destroy playgrounds and community halls. Make life better for people living on council estates, not worse. 

“If the Labour Council can’t figure out how to deliver that, as well as an increase in council housing, then what is, in fact, its purpose?” 

Jacqueline Gilmartin, a resident of the Dodson and Amigo Estate said: “We will continue to fight for our homes, green spaces and children’s play areas. 

“It’s time for Southwark council to listen to the residents of Southwark.”

Councillor Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Council Homes and Homelessness, said: “We are in the midst of a national housing crisis, and with more than 15,000 households on our waiting lists, half of these including children.

“There are 3,200 families in temporary accommodation in Southwark, often in severely overcrowded conditions and sometimes entire families in a single room. I sincerely believe we have a moral duty to build more council homes.

“We are exploring all the options available to us to build as many new council homes as we can, including more than 70 sites across the borough. Where we identify under-used sites where we could potentially build council homes, we undertake extensive consultation with the local community. 

“We work with local residents to shape the designs of new developments and improve the local public realm and wider estate. We carefully assess the housing needs of residents living in the area as well as access to green space and amenities. We always ensure that amenity spaces or community facilities are improved and/or re-provided when we build on these areas.

“We are also investing heavily in improving green spaces across the whole borough. We have a network of parks and open spaces, including natural woodland, parkland, playing fields, allotment gardens, amenity places and play areas spanning 105 sites including five major parks, 33 local parks, 15 gardens and squares, two sports grounds, five adventure playgrounds and 42 other open spaces.”



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