The Property Lobby: The Hidden Reality Behind the Housing Crisis in Ealing

There will be 14,800 new homes in 23 new developments in Southall over the next few years. 14 units over 10 stories high, and 7 over 20 stories high. Up to 40,000 new residents (and their cars)!

One third of the total new developments in the whole of Ealing borough (only Acton is getting it worse).

So not happening so much in the ‘white’ or richer areas of the borough, for some reason.

None of these homes will be genuinely affordable to most people currently living in overcrowded homes in Southall or Ealing, as Studio bedsit flats start at around £300,000!

Most will stay empty until they are sold to investors from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Bahrain(!) where they are actively marketed by the greedy property developers.

The same property developers who gave former Ealing Council ‘Leader’ Julian Bell and new Ealing Council ‘Leader’ Peter Mason (also a Southall Green ward councillor) over £30,000 in recent years to holiday in the south of France at the MIPIM property festival in Cannes described as a “booze ‘n’ hookerfest” by Private Eye Magazine.

Bell says, “it didn’t cost the taxpayer a penny”, but in Southall we are already paying with our health and quality of life thanks to the poisonous air from the development of the contaminated old gasworks site (due to complete in 2038!).

Town planner Mason says it was a mistake, and not what he expected(!).

Where will 40,000 new residents' children go to school (and how will they get there and back), how will they get an appointment to see a GP, which hospital will they go to when they need emergency treatment, and how will they get there on the roads already regularly gridlocked by too much traffic?

Worth taking the time to have a look at…

Cllr Mason recommended we read Bob Colenutt’s ‘The Property Lobby: The Hidden Reality Behind the Housing Crisis’.

So I did.

What Colenutt says (and he has a wealth of experience in local authority housing and planning, and in the community resisting property developers), is that developers do have too much power (as Mason argues), but also that local councils and councillors do not do enough to resist, do not have the negotiating skills (contrary to how Mason originally described the importance of trips to MIPIM to ‘negotiate hard’), and too readily embrace the ‘financialisation’ of the land and property market brought about by David Cameron’s and Nick Clegg’s ConDem government in 2010.

So now, we have a very real housing crisis fuelling the huge profits of private developers, all facilitated and egged on by mostly Labour councils too easily rolling over and allowing them to build fewer and fewer ‘genuinely affordable homes’ (because “where’s the profit in that?").

What Colenutt says loudly and clearly is that without ordinary people’s and communities' resistance it would be so much worse, and that to all intents and purposes councils and councillors are in bed with the developers.

Non-fiction: The Property Lobby: The Hidden Reality behind the Housing Crisis by Bob Colenutt 📚