Social housing tenants will not be allowed to use a gym in a new Bermondsey development – even if they offer to pay a higher service charge to use it.
Notting Hill Housing Trust has come under fire after it emerged that the fitness facility at The Exchange in Spa Road is only open to leaseholders.
The gym at the Bermondsey Spa scheme is out of bounds to both council tenants and residents of shared-ownership properties.
Cllr Dr Ben Johnson highlighted the issue after being approached by a local resident.
He said: “We now discover that those who buy shared ownership properties in Southwark are treated as second class citizens, with segregated facilities only for those who buy outright.
“A resident I talked to has to walk past this empty gym which he is not allowed to use every day. It is actually located in the affordable housing block.
“Similar to poor doors, this policy sews division and tension amongst our residents and should not be allowed in the mixed and diverse community of Southwark.”
Katie Bond, Director of Notting Hill Home Ownership, told the News that leaseholder law is not flexible enough to allow an opt-in or an opt-out service.
“This means everyone or no one would pay. It is not reasonable to add the cost of the gym to all our shared ownership leaseholds so a small number can use the gym,” she said.
However Cllr Mark Williams, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, rejected this sentiment.
He said: “Anyone who wants to use these facilities, and pay for them, should be able to.
“It appears that leaseholder law is not flexible enough to allow this to happen, which is disappointing. I hope Notting Hill continue to work on this and try to find a solution.”
Simon Hughes, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, also called for an adjustment to the policy and urged the council to pressure the housing developers.
“Increasing the amount of affordable housing in Bermondsey and Southwark is my top priority.
“Shared ownership is a good way for people to get a foot on the housing ladder – but that should not come at the price of being made to feel like a second class citizen.
“We should not forget that the Labour-run Southwark council made a clear pledge to allow free access to leisure services – something it appears to not be able to deliver.”
The news follows reports last week that social housing tenants will not be allowed to use a shared garden at the luxury One Tower Bridge complex.