We need homes for the many

Meridian Water
Meridian Water is set to create 10,000 homes over the next 15-20 years

A campaign has been launched to lobby for social housing at Meridian Water, writes Bob Mallick

Everywhere you look, new housing is sprouting up in Enfield.

Old pubs are becoming gated communities, office blocks are becoming apartment buildings, and every scrap of spare land is being eyed up for private development. Even Green Belt land is being nibbled away.

Yet, there’s been no significant new council housing development in the borough over the last decade or more – I struggle to recall even one. It’s almost all been private housing.

By council housing I mean low-rent social housing that the poorest can afford. Private rented accommodation and temporary accommodation – often unsuitable for children and families – costs millions in public funds. There are more than 4,000 Enfield residents on the waiting list for council housing, who can expect to be waiting as long as 15 years!

The latest grand scheme proposed by Enfield Council is the £6billion Meridian Water development in Edmonton. But the ‘three pillars’ in its slick publicity and website don’t mention Enfield at all. How many low-rent council homes will be provided in ‘Meridian One’, the first phase? None. The proportion of homes set aside for ‘affordable’ renting will be at a higher rate than the standard low council rent.

So-called ‘affordable’ housing can cost up to 80% of the average market price, and the median price at Meridian Water could be higher than £400,000, the current average in the borough. How many Enfield people, without a property already, could raise the deposit and mortgage to buy a property at this sort of price?

Meridian Water is great – but only for private landlords and developers. It does almost nothing for Enfield people needing council homes. This is public land and millions of pounds of public money will be spent on the development. But most of the new housing will be at prices beyond the reach of most Enfield people on average local incomes.

More people than ever need housing they can afford, but Meridian Water serves only private profit – it’s for the few, not the many. Meridian for Council Homes (M4CH) is a new campaign that aims to persuade the council that Meridian Water must comprise 100% council housing. Rental income and savings to the council in payment for temporary accommodation will mean it makes sound financial sense – and who can put a price on the difference it will make to the lives of Enfield people in need?

Please help support the campaign by calling, writing or emailing your local councillors to speak up for the poor and homeless.

Find out more about the Meridian for Council Homes campaign and sign the petition:
Tweet @4Meridian
Visit governance.enfield.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=228

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