Protesters outside the MIPIM conference. Photo by UK Uncut by Tim Lezard Unite activists are today joining demonstrators in London to protest outside a prestige property fair after a union briefing shows ‘super rich’, wealthy domestic and foreign prope …

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, UK unions, Unite,

Protesters outside the MIPIM conference. Photo by UK Uncut

by Tim Lezard

Unite activists are today joining demonstrators in London to protest outside a prestige property fair after a union briefing shows ‘super rich’, wealthy domestic and foreign property developers and ‘old money’ aristocrats are cashing in on Britain’s housing crisis, while 1.8 million households languish on council waiting lists.

They are targeting the MIPIM property fair at Olympia because they fear property developers could stitch up deals that would hit council tenants and leaseholders in London and elsewhere in the country.

Unite said that London’s Tory mayor, Boris Johnson is aiding and abetting property developers in the capital to the detriment of those seeking a home – at present, an £80,000 salary is needed to rent an ‘affordable’ two bedroom home in London.

In its briefing – Carving up our communities – Unite said that MIPIM will ‘super-charge’ the housing crisis. “Developers want to demolish more council estates: over 20 are currently under threat across London.”

Photo by UK uncut

Photo by UK uncut

Instead of the failed partnership MIPIM model, Unite is calling for a massive council house building programme and the regulation of landlords with the emphasis on rent controls which work in Germany and Sweden.

“Unite believes that councils and public bodies are pressurised by a combination of government, developers, and funding cuts to use publicly-owned land for majority-private housing development.”

Unite cites the following examples as proof of the depth of developer-fuelled housing crisis:

  • Boris Johnson has approved  a plan by the Westfield Group to build 1,300 new homes in west London, of which only five per cent will be for social renting
  • The Hong Kong-based Knight Dragon conglomerate has purchased  the entire 147 acre Greenwich Peninsular regeneration area – most of this former public land was decontaminated using £180 million of taxpayers’ cash
  • The Crown Estate has cut the number of affordable homes at its largest development at Bingham, Nottinghamshire by 10 per cent, despite there being 804 households on the local waiting list. Both the Crown Estate and  the Duchy of Cornwall, which funds Prince Charles’ activities, claim that building low cost homes is ‘unviable’
  • The Duke of Westminster’s property vehicle, Grosvenor recently sold four London houses for £114 million to developers Wainbridge which is redeveloping the site for 11 ‘super-prime high-end residential’ apartments valued at an estimated £350 million.

Earlier this month, Unite urged Labour councillors in London to boycott MIPIM as it attracts developers, estate agents, landowners and multi-national investors who, the union says, are “directly profiting from the UK housing crisis”.

* Demonstrators are meeting outside Kensington Tube station at 9am

NoMIPIM


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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