A DETERMINED campaigner protesting against Gurnell Leisure Centre’s redevelopment has hit back at the council’s definition of affordable housing and has written a letter to London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Ailis Gavan, of Pitshanger, started a petition in May opposing the council’s redevelopment plans for Gurnell Leisure Centre, which she feels will not result in enough affordable housing. 

She has since criticised Councillor Bassam Mahfouz’s defence of the plans that claims half of the properties built in the regeneration will be affordable.

The activist said: “This is a disingenuous use of the word ‘affordable’. 

“As clarified at a consultation meeting, it does not comply with the official ‘affordable’ criteria and is a long way from your own test of ‘genuinely affordable’. 

“It is Ealing’s own much lesser standard of ‘affordable’, meaning that 50% of properties will be private rented from a landlord who Ealing Council trusts to be ‘fair’ in some ill-defined way.”

Ealing Council uses the government definition of affordable housing which stipulates that affordable property must cost up to a maximum of 80% of the market rate.

The borough’s council housing usually charges 40-50% of the market rate.

A council spokesperson said: “Ealing Council is doing everything it can to increase the amount of affordable housing in the borough.

“As part of this, we are undertaking an ambitious programme to redevelop the borough’s most dilapidated council housing and creating well-designed and sustainable communities. 

“We are also delivering a new supply of affordable housing by developing surplus council owned land, such as unused garages and hostel sites. 

“This innovative approach has seen the council recognised as a leader in the field, actively engaged in building new homes on a reasonably large scale for the first time in over 30 years.

“This development will not only deliver a fantastic £38million modern leisure centre for the local community, but it will build much needed homes on the site without compromising the surrounding Metropolitan Open Land. 

“Without this development we would not be able to fund the state of the art sports facility or have any new homes in the area.”

Mr Khan has said he wants to build 50,000 of all types of housing annually and wants more than 50% of homes on some new housing developments to be affordable at a rate that is a third of the average income.

Ms Gavan wrote a letter to the mayor asking for him to intervene in the Gurnell project and attacked the council’s developments once more.

She wrote: “Ealing justifies its focus on private rented on the basis that it has met its own target for ‘affordable’ and therefore needs to prioritise private rented to achieve its notion of portfolio balance. 

“Does Ealing’s sense of an appropriate balance align with your own?” 

Ealing is the third largest London borough in terms of population and the Greater London Assembly expects it to grow to 349,000 (142,500 households) by 2026.

She continued: “The Ealing business case is unbalanced. 

“Ealing says a new leisure centre will save £250k per year in running costs (could this saving not be used to fund a new facility over 10 years?) but they ignore the wider costs of denying affordable homes to 225 households.”

Mr Khan lambasted Boris Johnson, previous London mayor, for leaving him building plans in which only 13% of new homes could be classed as affordable. 

City hall officials discovered that only 4,880 affordable homes, the lowest amount since 1991, were built in London last year.

Regarding the letter, a spokesperson for the mayor said: “The Mayor will consider this application on its merits in due course.”

Ms Gavan’s petition has now reached more than 2,000 signatures and can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/ealing-council-build-affordable-housing-on-the-gurnell-leisure-centre-site-west-london