Housing and anti-gentrification camaigns disrupt property awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – TUESDAY APRIL 21ST 2015

LONDON’S HOUSING AND ANTI-GENTRIFICATION CAMPAIGNS CONVERGE TO DISRUPT PROPERTY AWARDS.

 

This Tuesday 21st April 2015 multiple communities from across London committed to challenging the Property Awards (1) come together to fight back against the mass gentrification of London. Activists and community members will descend outside the Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel to conduct an alternative awards ceremony to recognise the destruction companies attended have caused to some of London’s most deprived and oppressed communities in London. It will also be an opportunity to flip the script, and congratulate all the housing and anti-gentrification campaigns for their hard work in ensuring London remains open and accessible to people from all backgrounds, not just a rich elite. Campaigners in attendance believe that the property developers and large financial institutions should not be congratulating each other for the profits they have made on the back of mass gentrification in London – see (2) Background on some of the shortlisted companies.

 

The demonstration will gather outside the Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane at 17:30 on Tuesday, 21st April, to send a single, clear message: ‘We reject the legitimacy of property companies, developers and financial institutions and their dominance, as well as their right to earn profits from the gentrification of London. We demand adequate, truly affordable housing for all, the protection of important cultural and social spaces and the democratisation of urban planning.’

 

The Property Awards website states – “The Awards will celebrate and reward excellence in 19 categories to the individuals and companies who have significantly impacted the property market in the past. The Property Awards are the UK’s leading and most prestigious annual Awards dedicated to the property industry.”

 

Dan Laverick from the Friends of the Joiners campaign said:

 

“Tenant evictions are at record levels in England and Wales with London being the worst hit; Britain is witnessing some of the worst shortages of affordable housing in history and rough sleeping in London has more than doubled over six years – what more evidence do we need that the Property Awards is morally bankrupt and complicit in a system that serves a minority elite at the expense of the majority?”

 

Katya Nasim from the Sweets Way campaign said:

 

“These companies do not care for the human and social costs of their projects. They care only for the profits they accrue, and London’s attraction to the global financial elite is leading them to convert living spaces, social amenities and community assets into soulless investment opportunities, which serve none but a tiny, privileged minority.”

 

Charlotte Gerada from the Friends of the Joiners campaign said:

 

“Property developers and companies are contributing to destruction of our diverse capital city as we know it, from rising rents and a shortage of social housing, to the closure of libraries and social centres, the demolition of pubs and clubs.

 

“They are complicit in a process of social cleansing, by which London is becoming off-limits to the families and communities that have lived here for generations, and built its reputation as the UK’s diverse and vibrant capital.”

 

Jon Glacklin from Streets Kitchen and organiser of The March For Homeless said:

 

“I am absolutely outraged! It is obscene that the property developers are having a private party and a back slapping Awards Ceremony celebrating their links with local London councils resulting in the social cleansing and evictions of local people, whilst there are ten empty homes for every homeless family.”

 

Clive Murphy-Simpson registered General and Mental Health Nurse and outraged resident of Covent Garden said:

 

“ I am witnessing shocking despoliation by people who have no interest in London – only in making money. Most of these luxury flats won’t even be occupied. Central London is becoming a wasteland, full of crowds and gawping tourists with little else.“

 

Protestors have made the following demands:

  1. The mass construction of social-housing;
  2. Rent controls to making housing affordable for all;
  3. Law making empty properties expensive or impossible so that no-one remains homeless while livable homes sit empty;
  4. The democratisation of urban planning to place people and communities at the centre of decision-making processes

 

Contacts

 

Email Contact: homos4homes@gmail.com

 

Phone numbers – Dan L – 07815925877 / Jon Ward 07973545098 / Dan Glass 07717811747 / Katya 07790108631

 

Notes to Editors

 

(1) Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel, 86 Park Lane, W1K7TN London, United Kingdom –http://www.awards.propertyweek.co.uk/

 

(2) Background on some of the shortlisted companies

Delancey is part of the huge Elephant and Castle redevelopment project, where thousands were evicted from their homes, some to the outskirts of London and beyond, and where social housing is being replaced by private flats. The Coronet, a gig and club venue that has been at the heart of E&C nightlife for decades, is also under threat and Delancey have refused to rule out demolition. The company recently purchased the shopping centre for a £80m but stand to turn a massive profit when they pull it down and replace it with retail units and flats.

 

Cathedral Group is building a project is Deptford town centre. Although they try to project an image of a locally sensitive, alternative developer, they are marketing flats in the development to overseas speculators. See report here:http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/11627222.VIDEO___Sickening__Deptford_investment_video_sparks_backlash/?ref=mr

 

Land Securities are one of the biggest developers in the country. They focus on commercial properties, but are also building several luxury developments in London. Their construction workers however are not paid the London Living Wage. The company also tried to claim tax relief for ‘losses’ made when they sold a company and then bought it back:http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/03/27/uk-landsecs-tax-idUKBRE92Q0OA20130327. They own the ‘Walkie Talkie’, at the top of which is the ‘public’ space that you have to register to visit. They described it as a ‘loss leader’, so we’ll see how long before they ditch their commitment to provide this public space:http://www.standard.co.uk/business/markets/a-sky-garden-for-the-eye-and-mighty-9125482.html.

 

Brookfield is a Canadian company that recently purchased Canary Wharf with the Qatari government. They are behind the 50-story Principal Tower in Shoreditch that is already marketed to investors in China and the Middle East. Flats start at £900,000.

 

Mill Group Residential is a Real Estate Investment Trust. They make money out of the housing crisis by renting to people who can’t afford to own their own place. Their Chief Executive described the housing crisis as an opportunity for safe and tax-efficient returns on investment:http://www.ftadviser.com/2014/11/17/investments/investment-trusts/mill-group-launches-first-mainstream-residential-reit-UC2XrH5qZrniqNQt6LpPqI/article.html

 

Hammerson are behind Bishopsgate Goods Yard, a controversial scheme of seven towers that was submitted with only 10% of the flats designated ‘affordable’ (which is defined as 80% of market rate, not affordable by any means).

 

Axa Real Estate invests heavily in care homes. They like the aging population and the government subsidies. Southern Cross is a good example of how the private sector see property profit opportunities when the residents require care and medical attention. They benefit from controversial Sale and Leaseback deals to the UK Hospital ‘Market’. These Deals have been key to the sell-off of UK Hospitals via the Private Finance Initative (PFI). Under these arrangements UK taxpayers have been forced into paying for the construction and maintenance of Hospitals that they no longer own.

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