The City of London Corporation should improve people’s health by changing the strict pets policies it keeps on its housing estates, an academic has said.
The Corporation manages thousands of homes across 19 estates, including the Barbican Estate, and 15 others located outside the Square Mile. There is a cap on having more than two cats per household across all Corporation properties, for both leaseholders and tenants.
While only “assistance” and guide dogs are permitted to residents who do not live in a house with private garden. Dogs are also banned from estates’ grounds.
Last week Dr Roger Green, a senior research fellow at Goldsmiths University, told a meeting of councillors and heads of department to “re-look” at the rules.
He said: “This is not groundbreaking stuff. People who live by themselves get a lot of support from pets.
“And the City’s policy still seems to be the case that you can’t have dogs, just guide dogs.
“We’re not talking about huge great Alaskan wolves. We’re talking about small dogs.
“It would really comfort a lot of people who struggle with loneliness. Having a pet may be the only contact they have all the time.
“There’s an opportunity here. Re-look at that policy.”
At the community and children’s services committee, councillor Marianne Fredericks replied to Dr Green: “I quite agree with you on the pets. It’s well known that having a dog or an animal has huge benefits… So I do argue that we should have a policy that’s flexible.”
The Corporation said it consulted with residents in 2017 and feedback indicated that the rules should stay in place. It also said its policy allows for exceptions to be made in some cases. There were mixed views of the pets policy on the Square Mile’s Golden Lane Estate.
Jonathan Lakin, 51, who works at St Bart’s Hospital’s medical stores, said: “At one point weren’t even allowed to have cats. I think I’d like to have one and still live here when I’m older and retired, a dog would keep me company.”
Life-long estate resident George Coyne, 18, said: “I would love to have a dog, it would be part of the family, so I wouldn’t mind them changing the rules.”
Iris Ellis, 75, said only little dogs should be let in. “I agree with small chihuahua that can get exercise just walking around the flat, but not big dogs. I know there’s a few people on the estate with bigger dogs and it’s not fair on them at all.” Former City councillor Steve Stevenson, 78, spoke of a case of the City trying to force a resident to give up a dog.
“I think in 1994 they tried to force a woman to give up her dog by threatening to take back the lease on her flat. It went to court and the judge said they couldn’t do it. The woman was allowed to keep her dog in the end on health grounds.
He added: “But I’m against any change in the rules. The flats on this estate are too small.”
A City of London Corporation spokesperson said: “The City of London Corporation reviews its pets policy every two to three years in consultation with residents. The current policy is due to be reviewed early next year.”