New strategy would see Council accelerate its own home building programme
Wandsworth Council have announced a new housing strategy which aims to increase the number of homes to be built in the borough by over 60% in the next decade.
Previously the home building target for the next ten years was 11,000 but this will increase to 18,000 if the new strategy is approved.
The council’s strategy, called the ‘Wandsworth Housing Offer’, sets out a series of connected initiatives which aim to provide a broader range of housing options and to improve standards in different areas of the market, including the private rent sector.
The proposals recognise that, across London, years of undersupply and rapid population growth mean there are not enough homes of any type or tenure to meet demand. Many residents have become stuck in housing which does not meet their needs or aspirations, with little or no opportunity to make the next step. It will see the council begin to exercise new freedoms over how it manages its resources, accelerate its own home building programme, take forward major regeneration plans for three council estates and could include establishing a housing company to deliver more homes for local people to rent.
Members of the local Labour party have criticised the measures as ‘too little, too late’ and questioned the Council’s commitment to providing housing for the most vulnerable sections of society.
Council leader Ravi Govindia said: “Through the Wandsworth Housing Offer we will help a broader range of people than ever before and will boost supply right across the local housing market. It amounts to a major expansion of our traditional local authority housing role and makes full use of new freedoms to manage our resources and take risks.
“Our key objective is to sustain a significant increase in housing supply with a focus on providing opportunities for the diverse range of households living and moving here. This includes older householders, the sons and daughters of our existing residents and the young singles and couples who make up an important part of the borough population.
“Our strategy will see new social housing, affordable housing and homes for private rent and private sale delivered in far greater numbers. Maximising supply across all tenures is the only way to close the gap between supply and demand and to bring affordability back to the London and south east housing market.
He promises a range of further measures including using council and other public sector assets more creatively to drive up supply. Also the Council will purchase properties to rent to local people on different terms. They will also offer support to other home builders. This will include helping local people build homes themselves on surplus land and using our planning powers to encourage the delivery of lower cost private rent homes in suitable locations.
Will Martindale, Battersea's Labour MP candidate said, "I have been calling for years for starter homes for first time buyers, investment in social housing and longer rental contracts. A neighbour of mine recently moved out of my street and back in with her parents 100 miles out of London, no longer able to afford her rent. These pressures are starting to hollow out our community.
"The council will be judged on its record on affordable homes. So far just three of the first 2,400 flats to be built on the Battersea Power Station site are affordable, family-sized homes."
Cllr. Govindia added, “We will develop a new model of private rent housing for Wandsworth residents and do much more to encourage local landlords to provide the longer, more stable rental contracts which allow people to put down roots.
“Our strategy sets out highly ambitious plans for improving our existing council housing including £77millon of ‘Decent Homes Plus’ investment over the next three years that will keep our estates above the national standards. We are also taking forward transformative regeneration projects in Battersea and Roehampton which go hand-in-hand with a range of education, skills training, employment and health initiatives which all have a vital role to play in helping our community’s to prosper.“
Sadiq Khan MP said of the proposals, “Finally Wandsworth Council have realised we are in the midst of a housing crisis! For many years Wandsworth council’s policies have exasperated London’s housing crisis. Whilst I welcome the move towards more low-rent homes and the requirement for developers to deliver more affordable housing, this is all too little, too late. As both a Wandsworth councillor and the local MP, I have been calling for council action on housing in the borough for years, but the council has had continued to bury its head in the sand.
“This new housing strategy is not without concerns. No one wants to see the most vulnerable people in our community pushed out of their homes, and I’m also disappointed by the council’s lack of commitment to delivering more new social housing. In the last year alone almost 1000 families lived in temporary accommodation in the borough, 69 of which were living in one room per family. We urgently need more social housing, and a council that is willing to deliver it.”
January 22, 2015