Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Southwark Council leader Peter John trumpets building of new council homes

It’s 17 September 2014 – and Southwark Council heralds plans to build the first 1,500 of 11,000 new council homes, publishing details of where these properties will be located, writes Paul Coleman.
The Council says the homes ‘will be let at traditional council rents’.
The new homes will include converted vacant spaces, such as ‘former community halls, disused rent offices, and laundries’.

But there’s initial confusion about the nature of these new ‘council homes’.
For instance, the Council says the first new homes – at Willow Walk in Bermondsey – will ‘include 75 affordable new homes’.
Of these 21 will be for residents on Southwark's housing register – and 54 for households ‘requiring urgent temporary accommodation’.
The press release presents a problem. 
At best, it confuses terminology, conflating council with 'affordable' homes.
At worst, it shows that even the building of a small number of council homes seems infused with property speculation.

Nevertheless, Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, says: “Our commitment to build 11,000 new council homes across the borough by 2043 is the most ambitious in the country.”
Southwark has some 18,000 households waiting for a council home.
John adds: “I’m pleased that we can now announce where the first 1,500 will be which we have committed to getting underway by 2018."

Competitive rents
“Council housing remains the most genuinely affordable option for many," says John. 
"This new generation of council homes at some of London’s most competitive rents will mean people across the borough will benefit.”
Southwark Council’s trumpeting of its new council homes hits a discordant note for many local residents.
They say the Council’s ongoing ‘regeneration’ of the Heygate and Aylesbury estates will result in a net loss of over 1,900 council homes.

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, December 2014

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