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‘We will continue to fight’: Southwark anti-infill protesters gather outside Tooley Street offices

Dozens of Southwark residents protested outside the council’s Tooley Street offices this week to show their opposition for its council housebuilding policy.

The protesters, coordinated by new umbrella campaign group Yes to Fair Redevelopment and others, spoke out on Tuesday evening (September 7) against Southwark Council’s so-called ‘infill’ policy, which would see new council homes built on empty or ‘under-used’ spaces in estates throughout the borough. Activists say that in many cases this will take away green space from residents or block light.

The council point to the waiting list for council homes, which is in the thousands, and the many more families currently living in accommodation that is unsuitable for them.

Tanya Murat from Southwark Defend Council Housing, who was among the people leading the protests, said: “More and more estate residents are joining the fight for fair redevelopment. We want a real solution to the housing crisis, to protect and enhance our green spaces and play areas. Don’t destroy playgrounds and community halls. We say don’t build unsafe rooftop homes. Make life better for people living on council estates, not worse. If the Labour Council can’t figure out how to deliver that, as well as an increase in council housing, then what is, in fact, its purpose?”

Janine Below, a resident of the Bells Gardens Estate in Peckham, said: “We are a hard-working, smart, organised and educated bunch of people who are acting together across the whole of Southwark and getting things done. There are many ways to build homes but destroying communities already there is not one of them. It’s just a matter of time that Southwark Council will have to recognise that infill is just not working – maybe just in time for the May 2022 election?”

Jacquie Gilmartin of Dodson & Amigo Estate in Borough said: “We will continue to fight for our homes, green spaces & children’s play areas. Residents across Southwark have come together, it’s time for Southwark Council to listen to the residents of Southwark.”

Councillor Stephanie Cryan, Southwark’s cabinet member for council homes and homelessness, said: “We are in the midst of a national housing crisis, and with more than 15,000 households on our waiting lists, half of these including children.

“There are 3,200 families in temporary accommodation in Southwark, often in severely overcrowded conditions and sometimes entire families in a single room. I sincerely believe we have a moral duty to build more council homes.

“We are exploring all the options available to us to build as many new council homes as we can, including more than 70 sites across the borough. Where we identify under-used sites where we could potentially build council homes, we undertake extensive consultation with the local community.

“We work with local residents to shape the designs of new developments and improve the local public realm and wider estate. We carefully assess the housing needs of residents living in the area as well as access to green space and amenities. We always ensure that amenity spaces or community facilities are improved and/or re-provided when we build on these areas.

“We are also investing heavily in improving green spaces across the whole borough. We have a network of parks and open spaces, including natural woodland, parkland, playing fields, allotment gardens, amenity places and play areas spanning 105 sites including five major parks, 33 local parks, 15 gardens and squares, two sports grounds, five adventure playgrounds and 42 other open spaces.”



  1. Southwark Council are hypocrites. If they really cared about housing those in need there wouldn’t be upwards of 3000 empty homes in Southwark, nor would sites like Manor Place have sat undeveloped for over 15 years. In horribly overdeveloped Wards like St Georges almost the only public green space is on Council Estates. We need to protect these green spaces – for the mental health and well being of ourselves and our children, for flood risk soakaway, for climate emergency green lungs. Community resources are precious. Our TRA halls have been lifelines for many during the pandemic. They must not be built on.

  2. Of couerse the council has a duty to provide hiomes but they have to be at afforable rents and not at the expense of those already living in high density estates with little green areas for relaxation. Seems Southwark council at present represent developers and gentrifiers more than they do their own electors.

    I agree they do buid council homes but unfortunately they also demolish more and sell the land to their developer friends to build unaffordable homes to replace those we could afford and need more

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