Mayor and Assembly unite against Crown Estate homes sell-off

Boris Johnson answers questions from the London Assembly. Photo: MayorWatch

Boris Johnson answers questions from the London Assembly. Photo: MayorWatch

Boris Johnson and members of the London Assembly used today’s Mayor’s Question Time to speak out against the planned sell-off of four housing estates by Crown Estates.

The Crown Estate plans to sell the freeholds of four residential estates at Cumberland Market, Lee Green, Millbank and Victoria Park which are rented to key workers and others on ‘intermediate rents’.

The sale is being opposed by tenants who fear it could lead to increased rents and the eventual loss of affordable properties.

At a meeting of the London Assembly Planning and Housing Committee held yesterday, Crown Estate Chairman Sir Stuart Hampson insisted that his board was “committed” to ensuring tenants would continue to benefit from their current arrangements but noted the Estate was not obliged to provide affordable housing.

The Estate’s website lists its two “main objectives” as: “to benefit the taxpayer by paying the revenue from our assets directly to the Treasury; and to enhance the value of the estate and the income it generates.”

Sir Stuart also undertook that the sale would not proceed unless the buyer agreeed to meet conditions protecting the rights of tenants.

After the meeting Committee Chair Nicky Gavron said AMs would “be holding the Crown Estate to their promises that if they cannot find a suitable buyer the sale will not go ahead.”

In a statement issued by his office, Sir Stuart said conditions on the sale imposed by the Board “would result in security for current tenants and a permanent commitment for key worker housing in the future which will greatly benefit key worker nominating bodies, councils and key workers. At the same time, it would allow The Crown Estate to fulfil its statutory duties under the Crown Estate Act. Such a sale would be a good outcome for all parties.”

However AMs from all parties on the Assembly spoke out against the sale at today’s Mayor’s Question Time session and echoed the concerns of tenants. There was also a call for the Crown Estate to be reformed and placed under the control of the Mayor.

Responding to concerns that the sale could proceed despite the wishes of tenants, the Mayor vowed that the Estate “simply won’t be allowed” to ignore the wishes of those affected by the decision.