Poor doors have become an increasingly controversial issues in recent times, with the majority of people considering them to be a regressive move which would exacerbate the disparity between the wealthy and not so wealthy.
However, Boris Johnson has remained on the fence on the issue, refusing to veto the introduction of ‘poor doors’, which would demarcate a distinct entrance for social housing tenants in new housing developments.
Although cost effective for housing associations, as they avoid the exorbitant service costs which comes as part of the parcel of affluent areas, discussion of ‘poor doors’ have aggravated worries regarding excessive costs of property within the capital.
Certain critics have styled the introduction of ‘poor doors’ as an unwanted throwback to early twentieth century housing circumstances, where certain tenants would live within the building and their less financially viable counterparts would live in a ‘back-house’ situated behind the building.
Although not ruling ‘poor doors’ out, the mayor of London has expressed his distaste for them. However, the decision to approve the 150 or so developments seeking to adopt the measure relies on his say-so. However, Johnson expressed some empathy with housing associations on the matter of service costs:
ì”The difficulty is, and this is what the developers will say, is that the high charges, the concierge charges, the charges for all the services in the building, cannot always be met in a uniform way by all the tenants, and that’s why they make this case for dual access.”
Commitment to affordable housing
What makes the matter even more uncomfortable for Boris Johnson is his commitment to affordable housing made earlier in his mayoral tenure. Johnsonís chief of staff, Sir Edward Lister, has recently reiterated his bossí desire to uphold that public pledge and referred to the 75, 000+ affordable homes already erected during Johnsonís term in power as the proof in the pudding.
Seemingly incessant to clarify Johnsonís position on the issue of social mobility, that is to say the empathy the mayor feels regarding the spread of wealth, Lister identifies uncontrollable, systematic flaws which could mean ‘poor doors’ as the only economically viable solution.
He said: “When coming to a view on any planning decision, the mayor or relevant borough has to balance a wide range of factors and policy concerns, not least the need to maximise overall housing output and the number of affordable homes.
“The mayor is committed to creating mixed communities for Londoners on a range of incomes. While he discourages dual access doors in planning applications, in some cases, this is not possible without incurring unaffordable service charges for people on a tight budget.”
Johnsonís indecision on the matter has been met with uproar from certain sections of the left, with Labour shadow housing minister, Emma Reynolds, particularly truculent on the matter. Seemingly incredulous on the proposed introduction of ‘poor doors’ she said:
“There shouldn’t be separate doors for people living in affordable housingî
She added: “Many of the developments that I have been to haven’t had this distinction but I am deeply concerned that it is something happening in the UK.î
David Lammy, MP, made it clear that he felt the notion of ëpoor doorsí is firmly outdated, comparing their implementation as reminiscent of a 19th century novel satirising the lack of equality within society.
He said: ìThis is a case of Londoners living side by side, but completely divided by bricks, mortar and money. We cannot allow London to become a city of haves and have-nots. The capital’s sweeping economic success must benefit all Londoners, not just those who can afford to pay for luxury living.î