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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 08:20 GMT
MPs' shock at church homes sale
Kate Hoey MP
Kate Hoey said she was shocked by the plan
MPs have expressed concern over the Church of England's plan to sell off affordable housing amid a claim it is "only interested in profit".

The three Octavia Hill estates in Walworth, Waterloo and Vauxhall were built to provide affordable housing for those on low incomes.

The south London estates, named after a 19th Century social reformer, provide nearly 1,600 homes.

The church said it is important to maximise the potential of investments.

But Labour MP Kate Hoey, who represents Vauxhall, spoke in the House of Commons of the sense of "anger" in local communities.

'No good whatsoever'

"This is just a shocking state of affairs and one that has gone on now for far too long," she said.

"Will you not realise that this is doing the church no good whatsoever, that legally they could sell to a social landlord tomorrow if they wished and that what it seems to all of us who are representing the very strong communities in inner city London is that the church is only interested in profit."

Sir Stuart Bell (Lab Middlesbrough), representing the Church Commissioners, said only freeholds would be sold and that existing tenancy agreements would remain in place.

"The church, of course, has an obligation to the wider church as well as to the people of Octavia Hill," he added.

The likely outcome of anything that doesn't guarantee social housing is that these will be at market rents and ordinary south Londoners will have no chance to live in them
Simon Hughes MP

Simon Hughes (Lib Dem North Southwark and Bermondsey) said he, Ms Hoey and Constitutional Affairs minister Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) had sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

They had told him that selling these into the private market, not keeping them as social housing, would be "entirely unacceptable", Mr Hughes said.

"The likely outcome of anything that doesn't guarantee social housing is that these will be at market rents and ordinary south Londoners will have no chance to live in them," he added.

Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman Lord Newby will urge the government on Tuesday to intervene over the issue at question time.




SEE ALSO:
Affordable homes promised by PM
07 Dec 05 |  North Yorkshire


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