Residents and workers aim to turn former hospital site into affordable housing.
The St Ann’s Redevelopment Trust (StART) came together in 2015 in Haringey, North London, to oppose a development plan on the site of the old St Ann’s hospital that classed only 14 per cent of the planned 470 homes classed as “affordable”.
What started with an opposition meeting of around 50 residents turned into a public consultation to find out what local people wanted on the site. The local community set up a community land trust (CLT) and drew up an alternative plan to build 800 homes on the site, aiming for 100 per cent genuinely affordable. As a CLT, the community planned to own the land and keep homes at affordable prices linked to income, rather than the speculative property market, in perpetuity.
In 2018, the CLT welcomed a decision by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to use his newly formed Land Fund to buy the hospital site. StART entered into a year of negotiations with the Greater London Authority (GLA) to ensure that what is eventually built on the site comes as close as possible to what the community was calling for.
In September 2019 the GLA went out to tender with the St Ann’s site. While StART has achieved some successes in negotiating with the GLA, the group were disappointed that the mayor would only agree to 60 per cent of the units being made affordable. The community masterplan that Haringey residents had developed would only be used as a reference point for bidding developers.
StART is still campaigning for more genuinely affordable homes. It has secured 50 homes to be developed by the CLT and are hoping for more. Developers and housing associations will have to give lifetime tenancies to all those who get London Affordable Rent homes on the St Ann’s site, and StART have ensured that the land itself remains in public hands as the GLA will keep the freehold.
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Create a Land Development Corporation
A corporation with the power to purchase, develop and sell land can ensure it is managed in the public interest.
Start an English Land Commission
Commission will design a strategy for a fairer, more inclusive system of land and land ownership.
Create a Common Ground Trust
Buying land from underneath houses and leasing it to members will expand the number of people ready to buy a house.
Tax unfair landowner gains
Redistribute unfair gains which landowners derive through public investment and land value increases.
Create a Public Land Bank
End the fire sale public land and instead use surplus land to form the basis for a Public Land Bank.
Introduce an NHS land community-lock
Any land asset sold by the NHS through choice, necessity or obligation should be used for community benefit.
Close the viability loophole
Stop private developers from evading affordable housing requirements.
Insulate and solarise our homes
UK homes are some of the most expensive to heat in Europe. We can reduce emissions and fuel poverty.
Reform compulsory purchase laws
Changes would mean that public authorities, rather than landowners, would capture the uplift in land value.