28 March 2019
Green councillors in Lambeth have vowed to keep up the pressure on both Henley Homes and Lambeth Council after the developer made a U turn on the decision to segregate the play area at their housing development at Baylis Old School, Kennington.
The development on Lollard Street gained national attention on Monday after it emerged that social housing tenants had been blocked from accessing the main playground.
The developers received widespread condemnation for the segregation which was marked as “outrageous” and "reminiscent of the ‘poor doors’ scandal".
Cllr Jonathan Bartley, Leader of the Green Party group on Lambeth Council launched a petition in response to the situation which called on Lambeth Council to “to use all powers and influence at its disposal - including using sanctions against decision-makers if necessary - in order to restore access to the play area for everyone”.
The petition gained over 1000 signatures in just 36 hours, during which the Council's reported position changed several times. It was initially reported by the Guardian that Lambeth Council "insisted the situation was unavoidable, and said it bears no responsibility for the site now that it has been built". However the Council has since released a statement saying "We are investigating what legal powers we have to ensure that any restriction of access is removed”.
Councillor Jonathan Bartley (St Leonard’ Ward) said:
“It is absolutely outrageous that this was allowed to happen in the first place. No one, particularly children, should be banned from a public space because of how rich or poor they are.
“There are still serious questions that must be answered. Green councillors are still seeking to establish when the Council was made aware of the situation and whether it took any action at all to try to reverse the segregation.
“We will work with Council officers, as Greens have done in Camden, to develop planning guidance and ensure safeguards are put in place so this doesn’t happen again. We'll also continue to hold both Lambeth Council and Henley Homes to account - particularly as it has now emerged that Henley Homes are a Labour Party donor - and make sure the barrier is removed permanently."