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'Dickensian' poor doors separating wealthy tenants should be banned

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Left, the luxury lobby of One Commercial Street. Right, its side-alley entrance reserved for affordable housing tenants. Credit: Sarah Lee

Developers should be banned from the “Dickensian” practice of having separate “poor doors” for social housing tenants, according to a new report.

The practice of separating entrances, dubbed ‘poor doors’ by opponents, has become increasingly controversial in London in recent years.

Many new housing developments are being built so that wealthy tenants are segregated from poorer renters.

In London private developers have to show they have catered to the growing need for affordable and social housing but many new buildings often boast swanky reception areas for their rich tenants and a utilitarian side entrance for those in cheaper flats.

The practice of dividing residents according to how much they pay makes society less integrated, according to the Social Integration Commission.

In its final report, the commission says it views the growing trend as a “particularly disquieting – almost Dickensian – development”.

It adds: “Poor doors, installed to keep social tenants out of sight of their more affluent neighbours, are emblematic not just of a growing divide between the rich and poor but of the way in which that gulf is now being built into our physical environment.”

PA Media