#UnaffordableLondon Live Coverage

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After much preparation and research the students at London Metropolitan University prepare to ask a panel of experts on the housing crisis London faces today. Will they be able to answer all of your important questions? Will the issues facing student accommodation get discussed? And will the students be able to make them see the big problems people are facing when buying houses in London?

Find out in our live blog of the event with journalism students Molly Arnold and Josephine Tamburello, as they deliver all of the questions the panel faces, their answers and the overall atmosphere of the event to you at home.

Be sure to check out all of the coverage on Holloway Express as it happens today and on Twitter @metjournalism and #UnaffordableLondon.


16:05 – London Met students prepare to have a serious debate on how affordable housing is in the capital. The excitement here in the Newsroom is building. Our distinguished panel is preparing to field some important questions.

16:24 – The cameras are set up and ready for action. The Henry Thomas room is filling up with students, staff and visitors, all eager to get started. 

16:34 – A student-made presentation, playing behind the panel, reflects the issues that will be discussed when our guest speakers arrive. Slides show photos of homeless people, beautiful London properties and ugly high-rise estates.

16:38 – Tweets have already started to come in from our enthusiastic students. Join in with the discussion: @metjournalism & #UnaffordableLondon

 16:41 – Green Party candidate for Mayor of London, Sian Berry, is in the room.


16:45 – Tom Copley, Labour, London Assembly Member, has arrived, coffee in hand. He has just planted a cheeky kiss on Sian Berry’s cheek.

Tom Copley

16:47 – Andrew Boff, GLA Conservative member of the London Assembly, follows Copley into the room. 

16:52 – The debate hasn’t yet started, but the panel is already getting questioned by budding journalists.

16:57 – The panelists are taking their seats! Welcome to Betsy Dillner, director of Generation Rent (@betsydillner), Dr Kristian Niemietz, head of Health & Welfare at the Institute of Economic Affairs(@K_Niemietz), Andrew Boff (@AndrewBoff), Sian Berry (@SianBerry) and Tom Copley (@tomcopley). 

16:59 – North London News (@LocalLondonBlog) is here to join the debate.

North London news


17:01 – Host Simon Cadman (@Zepoid), LMU Senior Lecturer Journalism, takes the mic to a huge round of applause.

17:02 – Warnings about fire exits are stated just in case things get too heated during the debate. 

17:05 – Sian Berry gave a journalist a bucket to use when a toilet in her studio flat was broken – good to know! 

17:05 – In the lead up to the big debate Andrew Boff has taken to Twitter to speak about the issues about to be discussed. 

17: 07 – Tom Copley brings past, present and future leaders into the debate as the introductions continue with a reference to Winston Churchill. He also makes a number of jokes about his interests which include drinking ale and running (not necessarily at the same time).

17:10 – The debate has begun! The first question from Elijah, “Is studying in London a privilege rather than a right?”

17:11 – Sian Berry says ‘student housing costs are ludicrous!’ She states, “I would campaign to get more student accommodation available.” 

17:13 – Andrew Boff says, “Studying in London ‘isn’t a privilege or a right – it’s a choice!’ 

17:15 – Dr Kristian Niemietz says, “This isn’t just a London problem, it is a nationwide problem with London at the top of the scale.” He also says, with fingers looking like a gun, “Rent control is a way of shooting the messenger!” 

17: 19 – Betsy Dillner praises the Green party for their work and for providing statistics on the housing problems in London. 

17: 20 – Kent and Hastings are the two places in the south where students can live affordably; however, travel costs commuting into the capital can cause further problems. 

17:21 – Tom Copley says if things keep going as they are in London, we will see more people from privileged backgrounds and fewer people from less privileged backgrounds living in the capital. He says, “It’s a tragedy for London. We want people to come live here and work here! The fact that London is so mixed is what makes it the best city in the world.”

17:23 – Interesting point to make here, Copley (Labour) and Boff (Conservatives) are not wearing ties… what would their mothers say?!

17:24 – Next question from student Emma Hati. “Is £450,000 an affordable price for first time buyers?” Dr Kristian Niemietz is the first to answer.

17:26 – Sian Berry says, “We need to be pioneering new ways for finding homes.” For a self-build, she would ‘probably be able to afford bricks & mortar to build her own house, but not to buy land in London’.

17:32 – Tom Copley and Sian Berry are quick to fire back as Andrew Boff tackles social housing issues. 

17:33 – Andrew Boff hates the term “affordable housing” because he says “it is so subjective”. We should use the term “sub-market”. 

17:36 – Tom Copley rents in Kentish Town and says “the rent is extortionate.”  He says rent is not subsidised with social housing. “The debate needs to go back to something resembling reality,” he says. 

17:38 – Laura Mendes asks our third question – “How or when can we get affordable housing in London if we leave it to the free market?” Dr Kristian Niemietz says, “These problems are uniquely British problems.” He adds, “I would abolish London’s green belt. When someone mentions Green Belt they think of the landscape in the Lord of The Rings. It is simply a blanket ban on land in London.” Cue a “you shall not pass” joke.




Sian Berry says, “The Green Belt is there to provide access to the countryside for people.”

17:43 – Andrew Boff laughs as Sian Berry speaks of how London’s housing issues look in the future. 

17:48 – Betsy Dillner doesn’t want to just start building “willy nilly” and opening up the green belt completely, but we should start building, she says. “We need to start thinking what we need to start doing. We need to start talking about who is going to feel frustrated about the housing problems.


”This crisis is not beyond the capacity of the human imagination to solve. We just need some leadership.” 

17:50 – Andrew Boff says, “Freedom needs policing and freedom needs rules” and adds: “I will absolutely agree with building on the Green Belt if we start on Hyde Park.” Do you agree?




17:52 – Hands fail to rise to support Andrew Boff’s ironic plans for building on Hyde Park. Instead there is laughter from the audience. 

17:53 – Student Kartel Brown asks, “Will the housing and planning bill prove to be the new poll tax for this Tory government?” 

17:54 – Tom Copley says it’s “the worst housing legislation in history.” He says, “This legislation was dreamt up in a panic when the tory party thought they were going to lose! Unfortunately for David Cameron, Nick Clegg didn’t do too well.” 

17:57 – Betsy Dillner says, “The legislation hasn’t been translated to say the impact that it will have on people’s lives.”

17:58 – Andrew Boff is challenging Tom Copley on housing associations.  He says that the Conservative government are “listening to what people want” – what do you think? 

18:02 – Andrew Boff argues against Sian Berry and says, “I was born in a council house, why would I want to get rid of them?” 

18:02 – Sian Berry believes 15% of homes in Camden will be lost if the legislation is brought in.

18:03 – Student Wendy Abiri asks, “Is it okay for landlords to charge students to live under the stairs?” Dr Kristian Niemietz answers, “I don’t have stairs.”

18:05 – Host Simon Cadman brings the panel and audience into the home run for the event. Betsy Dillner continues climbing the stairs with the landlord topic.

18:06 – Sian Berry says something should be done about the standard of accommodation. “We shouldn’t have people living under the stairs, in damp, in horrible conditions. UCL students have been protesting about this!”

18:08 – Andrew Boff says, “The trouble is I live in an area under the Labour council. It’s not good enough to wait around for people to complain. Some people are being trafficked into the country, they won’t advertise that they are living in poverty.”

18:10 – The debate is over! We thank the panel for their time as do the audience, who give them a large round of applause from the students here at London Met. Thank you for joining us for tonight’s debate and discussion.




18:15 – Students and visitors alike dig into the free nuts, crisps and cheap wine.


By Josephine Tamburello & Molly Arnold

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