Henley Homes has allegedly, after planning permission was granted to use the complex, removed access to a communal playground for the families living in social housing at the Lilian Baylis Old School site in Lambeth, south London.
Henley Homes developed the site on the condition that it was a mix of affordable housing and social units – it is made up of one social housing building and the three other sides of the green space are rented, privately owned or shared ownership.
According to the Guardian, social housing children been given a separate, smaller space to use. One Dad told the Guardian: “My children are friends with all the other children on this development – but when it is summer they can’t join them.”
Natalie Williams from Jubilee Plus, a charity which exists to help the Church serve poorer communities, told Premier: “To be honest when I first saw [the report] I could barely believe it. I didn’t really know how to respond – I am so shocked and appalled that this has been allowed to happen and that the developers thought that they could get away with it. What it’s communicated to those children who are from social housing is absolutely awful…This is simply not OK, this is morally wrong.
“Many of these kids will be in school together and they can see each other out of their windows playing in the area.
“I would hope that Henley will think again and put it right immediately.”
Williams said the parable of the Good Samaritan shows that we are meant to break down walls between classes and races: “There’s something about how we’re supposed to interact with those around us, as Christians, where we are supposed to be merciful, compassionate and gracious even to people that society might say there should be barriers between us and them.”
She said Christians should be thinking of how Jesus treats his neighbour and be thinking: “I love you because you’re made in the image of God – it doesn’t matter what your social standing is, it doesn’t matter what your ethnicity is…I will love you and be kind to you and treat you with respect and dignity because you’re made in the image of God.
“As Christians we need to be on the front foot here saying this is wrong and it needs to be put right.”
Henley Homes says it has a duty to provide play space for all under five year olds – and it has done that.
Warwick Estates is the company that manages the private part of the development.
It has defended keeping the social housing residents out of the shared spaces.
A spokeswoman told the Guardian: “This is for [a] very good reason – being that [they] do not contribute towards the service charges.
“This is in no way discriminatory but fair and reasonable.”
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A Christian charity has criticised a London housing developer for segregating play areas for richer and poorer residents.