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Government moves to stop ‘poor doors’ and rich kids’ playgrounds

Shutterstock rich poor segregation sign
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The government is to toughen up planning guidance and launch new design principles to help stop the use of ‘poor doors’ and restricted access to playgrounds

Communities secretary James Brokenshire has announced new measures to end the segregation of council and housing association residents in mixed-tenure developments in a bid to tackle the stigma associated with social housing.

A new design manual will promote best practice in inclusive design and set expectations for inclusivity in future developments as part of the government’s Communities Framework.

In March, Henley Homes, the company behind Conran and Partners’ redevelopment of Baylis Old School in south London, faced criticism after The Guardian revealed that social housing tenants at the complex had been told that their children could not use a communal playground.

Brokenshire said: ‘I’ve been appalled by stories of segregation and tenants being denied access to certain shared facilities such as playgrounds.

‘Social housing has transformed the lives of millions of people over the past 100 years. It has the power to continually shape lives for the better, but we need to see residents being treated with the respect they deserve.’

Under the Communities Framework, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will establish design principles and planning guidance for new places and homes ‘that put communities and community involvement at their heart’.

The department says it will ‘address unfair segregation in housing developments and promote integrated and socially cohesive communities’ by working with local planning authorities and the industry to implement the National Planning Policy Framework. Updated in July last year, this framework states that planning policies and decisions should promote social interaction.

The ministry will also consider updating planning guidance to show how good planning can reflect its policy ‘by creating tenure natural design’.

The government measures come after the mayor of London banned segregation by tenure of play areas in the new London Plan, which will shape development in the capital for the next few decades.

This month marks the centenary of social housing, but a new government survey found nearly a quarter of people would ‘feel uncomfortable’ living close to council or housing association homes. There was a generational divide in attitudes, with older people less likely to feel comfortable.

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