Council Cuts Rents and Increases Housing Investment

Extra £93million spending promised with 1% reduction for tenants

The Rollo Estate in Battersea

Wandsworth Council have reduced rents for council tenants and approved an extra £93 million to go towards the improvement of housing estates in the borough.

They say this will bring the money invested in improving and adding to the borough’s housing stock to more than £450million over the next four years.

The funding was approved at a full council meeting on Thursday (17 January) and the Council say that it will allow a number of projects can be brought forward including new windows at Denmead and Dunbridge Houses on the Alton estate, new windows at blocks in Augustus Road, Southfields, a new roof and windows at Melrose Court in east Putney and new heating and hot water boilers at the Orchard and Southmead estates in West Hill. It also means that CCTV and entrycall security systems can be upgraded earlier in parts of Roehampton’s Alton estate.

The programme of investment would mean an extra £33m to be spent on day to day repairs and improvements to homes, while an additional £57m is earmarked for estate regeneration and for building 1,000 new homes.

For the average weekly council rent across the borough of £125, the rent reduction represents a saving of £1.25 a week. This compares to an average rent in the private sector in Wandsworth of £216.

Wandsworth's cabinet member for housing Cllr Kim Caddy said, “We have unveiled a huge programme of improvements to the borough’s council estates. This investment will make a big difference to the daily lives of tens of thousands of people.

“People living on our estates will benefit from major upgrades to lighting, heating and security around their homes. Many blocks will also get brand new roofs, windows and lifts and there will be new boilers plus kitchens and bathrooms fitted in a large number of properties.”

Labour Councillors voted against the plan. A Wandsworth Labour spokesperson told this website that in the committee, Labour councillors put down amendments to Tory housing plans (Paper 19-03 and 19/05 c). These amendments argued for significantly more affordable housing. The Tories voted against these amendments. So, as the proposals didn’t include Labour’s suggestion for more affordable housing, the Councillors voted against them. The Wandsworth Labour spokesperson said: “Our committee team argued passionately for more affordable housing in the council's plans. The Tories refused to add extra affordable homes for local people to their plan, so we voted against it.

Continuing: “Wandsworth Tories have a dreadful record on affordable housing. They recently allowed the developers at Battersea Power Station cut 250 affordable homes. They've sold off 24,000 council homes and refuse to prosecute rogue landlords. These policies have an impact: more than 2,700 children woke up homeless this morning in Wandsworth Council temporary accommodation. Genuinely affordable housing for local people is Wandsworth Labour's number one priority.”

One Alton Estate resident, Mathew Tiller, backed the Labour Councillors actions on Twitter.

A spokesperson for the Alton Regeneration Watch commented: "Repairs and improvements are welcome and long overdue. What we do not welcome is demolitions. The Alton Estate is famous for its pioneering architecture inspired by Le Corbusier. Despite protests from architects' journals, Wandsworth Council plans to demolish the iconic Allbrook House, plus a swathe of neighbouring blocks that could easily be renovated. In its place, they will cram in private flats, with council tenants and leaseholders pushed to the edges of the area, or bribed to move out of Roehampton altogether.

The stament continues: "The new buildings will be characterless, tightly packed and up to nine storeys tall, and block out sunlight for existing residents. Literally hundreds of new people will move in, putting strain on local services. Early morning buses are already so full that they turn away passengers, so how will they cope with extra demand?

Congratulations those councillors with the sense to vote against these destructive proposals."

January 22, 2019