Warning to prioritise key worker housing or lose staff


A City councillor has urged the Corporation to build more affordable housing for key workers in the Square Mile, claiming the rising cost of living is driving hospital staff out of the Capital.

Vintry ward councillor Tom Hoffman, who also sits on the Council of Governors at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital, called upon the Corporation to include specific targets for key worker housing in its pledge to build 3,700 new homes by 2025.

The ‘Project 3000’ scheme sets out a pledge to build 3000 dwellings across its existing property portfolio over the next decade and an addition 700 on its existing housing estates.

Mr Hoffman implored the City to collaborate with St Bartholomew’s and Royal London hospitals to help free up sites to address the shortage of affordable housing for key workers in London.

“I am particularly conscious of the financial pressure on nurses, and the fight we have on our hands to ensure adequate staffing levels,” he told the Court of Common Council last week.

“But I’m certain this isn’t an issue exclusive to hospitals and nurses. We are absolutely reliant on key workers to keep the City running. It’s imperative we ensure genuinely affordable housing is available to them.”

His comments come after a report was leaked on the Corporation’s website last month dismissing the majority of sites proposed for the Project 3000 scheme as too high-risk to meet the deadline. Just 108 new homes have been approved on Corporation-owned land since the authority made the pledge in October 2015.

Policy chief Catherine McGuinness told the court that they were “at an early stage” in delivering on its housing promise and that it was still unclear how much will be allocated to key workers.

This is not the first time the City Corporation has been criticised for its approach towards delivering affordable housing. Last July the authority’s planning committee drew the ire of locals for approving the redevelopment of Bernard Morgan House, a former police accommodation site, into luxury flats.

The scheme was met with widespread opposition from residents, who said it does not meet housing contribution targets and would result in significant loss of sunlight to the community.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to “rewrite the laws on planning”, setting local councils tough new targets for affordable housing and giving key workers priority.