Multimillion-pound housing developments in London are segregating less well-off tenants from wealthy homebuyers by forcing them to use separate entrances.
An investigation by The Guardian newspaper has discovered a growing trend in the British capital's upmarket apartment blocks - which are required to include affordable homes to win planning permission - for the poorer residents to be forced to use alternative access, a phenomenon dubbed "poor doors". Even bicycle storage spaces, rubbish disposal facilities and postal deliveries are being separated.
The Green Party accused developers of showing "contempt for ordinary people" by enforcing such two-tier policies.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week that he intended to ban segregated blocks after it emerged a Manhattan developer planned a separate entrance for a luxury block also containing 55 affordable units. Now London Mayor Boris Johnson faces calls to do the same after it emerged separate doorways and facilities have become standard in the British capital.
Tracey Kellett, a buying agent for wealthy clients, said a number of developments have separate entrances "so the two social strata don't have to meet".
At one building bordering the city's financial district, the Guardian discovered wealthy owners accessed their homes via a hotel-style lobby area, while social housing tenants entered through a side door in an alley alongside trade entrances.
Many properties now have communal areas akin to those in top hotels. Service charges to maintain these are high, and a separate entrance means housing associations and their tenants do not face these extra costs. But there are concerns that it is leading to divided communities.
Green Party London assembly member Darren Johnson said: "This trend shows contempt for ordinary people."