Liberal Democrats are demanding action from the Council to prevent the spread of two levels of service on new estates being built across Southwark.

Local councillors have been contacted by residents on The Exchange development in Spa Road, which is part of the Council’s Bermondsey Spa regeneration scheme.  The scheme is built and managed by Notting Hill Housing Trust, one of the council’s major partners, who recently celebrated the completion of their 30,000th home in the capital.

Since The Exchange development opened, tenants and residents living in shared ownership properties have discovered though that they have no access to the gym facilities on the estate, while leaseholders have access and pay through their service charge. 

Residents have complained that denying them access to the estate gym is unfair and goes against the spirit of the Council’s pledge to allow free access to leisure services.  It also means that the potential benefits of exercise in tackling obesity, fitness and mental health wellbeing are lost to many residents in The Exchange.

Liberal Democrat councillors have now written to the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Notting Hill Housing Association asking them to change this harmful policy. 

Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson, Councillor Ben Johnson, said:

Liberal Democrats are fighting for more affordable homes in Southwark.  With 19,000 people on the council’s waiting list there is a desperate need and shared ownership is an important form of affordable housing to help first-time buyers get on the housing ladder.

“We now discover though that those who buy shared ownership properties in Southwark are treated as second class citizens, with segregated facilities only for those who buy outright. Similar to "poor doors", this policy sows division and tension amongst our residents and should not be allowed in the mixed and diverse community of Southwark.

"If those in shared ownership are wiling to pay for the use of the gym, why should they be banned from keeping fit? I have written to Notting Hill Housing and the Cabinet Member for Regeneration to demand an end to this segregation on all existing and future developments and I look forward to their response."