Whoever wins the race to become the capital's Mayor in May faces an unprecedented crisis in housing its citizens, according to the London Housing Commission’s final report Building a new deal for London. City chiefs and town halls will get “essential powers and resources” to address the council house building crisis.
The new deal will surely have two predictable effects. It will enrich developers, save unelected quangos and advance ministerial careers. But, once again, desperate Black and other vulnerable communities may lose out.
To counter this dire prospect, the new mayor must inject a bias toward betterment in urban renewal. Otherwise, the fledging city leader risks repeating the social planning disasters of the present and past.
People-centred policies, life enhancing projects and sustainable environments should top the betterment agenda, requiring the participation of communities alongside urban planners and powerful patricians.
Positive beneficial practices may be difficult to achieve, uncomfortable and unprofitable to pursue. Nevertheless, a mayor’s strong commitment makes sense. The “‘radical’ new powers over housing, borrowing and property taxes” could fuel the bias for betterment.
If nothing is done Lord Bob Kerslake, commission chair, admits, “both the scarcity and affordability of housing across London will continue to worsen”. Consequently, levels of home ownership will continue to fall and rents will continue to rise, he said. This will “not only put extra strains on the lives of Londoner’s living in the capital, but will also have wider social and economic consequences”, said Lord Kerslake.
Therefore, the predicted knock on effects for Black and other vulnerable communities are clear.
· Minority disadvantage will increase in the worst deprived and impoverished council housing areas and estates.
· Life will be intolerable for the inner city “peoples of the abyss”, in Peckham, Brixton, Hackney, Croydon, Stockwell and Harlesden.
· Unrelieved inner city distress will shatter fragile families and neighbourhoods.
Moreover, without a betterment focus, many hard-hit, hard-up communities will challenge the new deal for a model globalising city as a con.
*Thomas L Blair is an award-winning journalist, author and sociologist. He writes features for The-Latest.com and is well-known for his Chronicleworld weblog. His Black London eMonograph series titles are free from his website Editions Blair .