Politicians slam 'divisive and cruel' London property development with separate play areas for rich and poor children

Google MapsThe Baylis Old School apartment complex.
  • British politicians have slammed a property developer for excluding social housing tenants from using the main playground in a multi-million apartment complex.
  • The multi-million Baylis Old School development in south London was built by Henley Homes and includes high-end properties and separate government-issued social housing.
  • Children living in government subsidized flats are banned from using the main play area, and have to use a small playground at the back of the building, The Guardian reported.
  • British politicians labelled the segregation an “absolute scandal,” a disgrace,” and “divisive and cruel” on Monday.
  • One Twitter user even compared the property developers to a “Dickensian villain.”

Politicians are attacking a luxury London property developer which built an apartment block with segregated play areas – one for rich children, and one for poor children.

The multi-million Baylis Old School development was built by Henley Homes, who got permission to develop the site in exchange for promising to build government issued social housing apartments, the Guardian reported.

But, the firm then decided to split the children’s play areas as well – a decision branded “divisive and cruel” by a member of parliament, and worthy of a “Dickensian villain” by one prominent journalist.

Baylis apartment rich poor play LondonGoogle MapsApartments in the Baylis Old School complex.

The development, where private units cost as much as $US814,000 (£615,000), is split into Wren House, the private dwellings, and Wren Mews, where the government social housing is located.

Children living in the Wren Mews side of the development are blocked off from the main play area by an impassable hedge, and were told to play in a smaller area at the back of the block, residents told the Guardian.

Daniella Rea, a resident of Wren Mews, told the Guardian: “As soon as we moved in, the caretaker said to us, “That’s private: those people bought their houses, so they get to play there”.”

Baylis apartment poor playground lonodnGoogle EarthA top-down view of the apartment complex.

Warwick Estates, the company that manages the private part of the development, defended its decision to keep the social housing residents out of the shared spaces to 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,” spokeswoman Emma Blaney said.

Henley Homes did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER, but told the Guardian that the freehold of the social housing part of the building belongs to the Guinness Partnership, a social housing company.

“This deal structure was agreed with Guinness right at the start, as a method for them to best manage their freehold for the benefit of residents. Wren Mews is a separate, albeit closely neighbouring block with its own access,” Suze Jones, a spokesperson said.

The Guinness Partnership told the Guardian it had no control over anything but the actual social housing block, and was unable to control access to private areas of the development.

Politicians have expressed their outrage

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party tweeted: “This is wrong, and it must end.”

David Lammy, a Labour member of parliament wrote: “London has become a tale of two cities. Developers who segregate rich and poor children should face sanctions. This is a disgrace.”

Author Dan Hancox tweeted: “Space is political. Play is political. This is an absolute scandal.”

Duncan Robinson, political correspondent at The Economist tweeted: “Gonna set up a PR firm where I charge huge sums of money to just say “Don’t behave like a Dickensian villain” on repeat.”

Joe Swinson, a Liberal Democrat MP tweeted: “This is horrible, divisive and cruel. For heaven’s sake, just let the children play together!”

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