Church Commissioners Written Answer – Social Housing

On 19th October 2018 the Second Church Estates Commissioner Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP answered a written question from the Rt Hon. Frank Field MP on social housing.

Spelman CCQs120718cFrank Field: To ask the Honourable Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, which housing estates (a) in the Greater London area and (b) elsewhere have been sold by the Church Commissioners; and whether guarantees were sought that those estates would remain in social housing ownership. [175982]

Dame Caroline Spelman: In 2005 and 2006 following careful consideration the Church Commissioners took the decision to sell what were known as the Octavia Hill Estates, comprising approximately 1,580 flats and houses within the Greater London area.

The sales, to a joint venture between Grainger plc and Genesis Housing Group, were subject to the residents’ leases, and the rights and obligations contained in these remained. A commitment was made to engage with residents’ associations and to keep in touch with tenants as the sales progressed to keep them fully informed. Some tenants had the right to purchase their properties and this was communicated to the qualifying tenants.

In 1985 the Church Commissioners took the decision to sell their residential property holdings in Brixton to a housing association. According to the records of the Commissioners covenants were not placed on these properties and to the best of knowledge these properties are still owned by a housing association.

The Church Commissioners are not and have never been a social housing provider and have a statutory duty to deliver the best possible return on their investments to fund the work and mission of the Church of England across the country. The Church Commissioners continue to provide new housing across the country where they have land holdings and affordable housing is a key part of that provision.