Socialist Worker

Firms compete to make mega bucks from housing sell off

Issue No. 2342

A few miles up the Thames from Elephant and Castle, the enormous Nine Elms regeneration project is already underway.

It stretches from Vauxhall in Labour-run Lambeth to Battersea Power Station in Tory-run Wandsworth.

It seems that Battersea Power Station holds a special place in Tory hearts.

David Cameron chose the venue to launch his election campaign in 2010.

The first of the homes in the development around the power station went on sale last year—though they are yet to be built.

A studio flat costs more than £300,000 while a penthouse is priced at £6 million.

Blacklisting construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine is already doing preparation work on the site.

It is bidding to win the overall construction contract for the site, worth £350 million.

One of the other frontrunners is Lend Lease. Around £8 billion will be spent on the total regeneration.

This includes public money from the Central London Authority and preferential loans straight from the Treasury.

There’s also an effective subsidy in the form of a new London Underground extension, which will make the area more profitable. The state is partly paying for this.

Tory leader of Wandsworth council, Ravi Govindra, admitted that firms had been allowed to wriggle out of social housing contributions in exchange for backing the tube extension.

They expect only 15 percent of new homes to be social housing.

But construction and property firms are licking their lips at the prospect of multi-billion pound profits.

Meanwhile in Stratford, east London, Labour-run Newham council is trying to get rid of the last residents from the Carpenter’s Estate.

The estate is next to the Olympic stadium.

The council wants to replace quality council housing with a new £1 billion campus of UCL university.

Nearly one in four Newham residents is on the social housing waiting list—the highest proportion of any London borough.

Across London the average is more than one in ten.

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