‘Super rich’ and wealthy property developers cash in o...

‘Super rich’ and wealthy property developers cash in on Britain’s housing crisis, says Unite

14 October 2014

The ‘super rich’, wealthy domestic and foreign property developers and ‘old money’ aristocrats are cashing in on Britain’s housing crisis, while 1.8 million households languish on council waiting lists.

These are the stark conclusions in a briefing by Unite, the country’s largest union, released the day before a prestige property fair in London kicks off over fears that property developers could stitch up deals that would hit council tenants and leaseholders in London and elsewhere in the country.

Unite activists and other campaigners are meeting at 09.00 tomorrow (Wednesday 15 October) outside the Kensington tube station, Olympia  Way, W14 0NE to form a protest at the MIPIM property fair, the biggest of its kind in the world, being held for the first time in London at Olympia between 15-17 October.

Unite said that London’s Tory mayor Boris Johnson is aiding and abetting property developers in the capital to the detriment of those seeking a home – at present, an £80,000 salary is needed to rent an ‘affordable’ two bedroom home in London.

In its briefing – Carving up our communities - Unite said that MIPIM will ‘super-charge’ the housing crisis. “Developers want to demolish more council estates: over 20 are currently under threat across London.”

Instead of the failed partnership MIPIM model, Unite is calling for a massive council house building programme and the regulation of landlords with the emphasis on rent controls which work in Germany and Sweden.

“Unite believes that councils and public bodies are pressurised by a combination of government, developers, and funding cuts to use publicly-owned land for majority-private housing development.”

Unite cites the following examples as proof of the depth of developer-fuelled housing crisis: 

  • Boris Johnson has approved  a plan by the Westfield Group to build 1,300 new homes in west London, of which only five per cent will be for social renting 
  • The Hong Kong-based Knight Dragon conglomerate has purchased  the entire 147 acre Greenwich Peninsular regeneration area – most of this former public land was decontaminated using £180 million of taxpayers’ cash 
  • The Crown Estate has cut the number of affordable homes at its largest development at Bingham, Nottinghamshire by 10 per cent, despite there being 804 households on the local waiting list. Both the Crown Estate and  the Duchy of Cornwall, which funds Prince Charles’ activities, claim that building low cost homes is ‘unviable’
  • The Duke of Westminster’s property vehicle, Grosvenor recently sold four London houses for £114 million to developers Wainbridge which is redeveloping the site for 11 ‘super-prime high-end residential’ apartments valued at an estimated £350 million.   

Earlier this month, Unite urged Labour councillors in London to boycott MIPIM as it attracts developers, estate agents, landowners and multi-national investors who, the union says, are “directly profiting from the UK housing crisis”.


For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.

Notes to editors: 
  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.