No social housing please, we’re Newham

10 Jun

600full charles hawtrey Sir Robin meets a developer who’d rather pay cash than provide social housing

Back at the end of March I submitted a Freedom of Information request to Newham council about the amount of new housing built in the borough since the award of the 2012 Olympics:

Since 6th July 2005 to today’s date:

1. How many dwellings have been built in Newham by private developers?

2. How many of these have been added to the borough’s social housing stock through section 106 agreements?

For both questions, please provide total figures for the borough and a breakdown by ward.

For the purposes of this question, a dwelling means a self-contained unit of accommodation. Self-containment is where all the rooms (including kitchen, bathroom and toilet) in a household’s accommodation are behind a single door which only that household can use.

The due date for a response was 30 April, three weeks before the local elections.

I finally got an answer on Friday, two weeks after the election (make of that what you will). It makes for some pretty dismal reading:

Ward Housing completions from all sources Of which built for social rent (of which delivered through a S106 agreement) Of which built as Council social rented stock
Beckton 467 33 (23)
Boleyn 83 2
Canning Town North 538 113 (93)
Canning Town South 1882 158 (153)
Custom House 196 78 (33) 6
East Ham Central 175 34
East Ham North 132 16 (9) 7
East Ham South 66 12
Forest Gate North 299 76 (61)
Forest Gate South 378 49 (2)
Little Ilford 131 11 (10)
Green Street East 105 0
Green Street West 249 40 (26)
Manor Park 124 6 2
Plaistow North 426 220 (38)
Plaistow South 184 9 1
Royal Docks 552 95 (16) 6
Stratford and New Town 2292 475 (363)
Wall End 47 0
West Ham 361 156 (85)
Total 8687 1583 (912) 22

 (all figures are no. of units)

The council’s Core Strategy document says, on the subject of affordable housing:

The Council will ensure that our communities are places where residents can afford to live, and are adaptable to their changing economic circumstances.
To achieve this we will:

1. Aim to ensure 50% of the number all new homes built over the plan period [2004 – 2013] are affordable;

2. Seek all new developments or redevelopments on individual sites with capacity for 10 units or more to provide between 35-50% of the number of proposed units affordable housing, comprising 60% social housing

On the basis of the figures provided to me, that’s a big fat fail. Why haven’t developers been required to stick to the plan? Why are blocks of apartments being built that can be advertised to overseas ‘investors’ as ‘100% private; no social housing’?

In recent years Newham has received millions of pounds from central government in new homes bonus and next to none of this has been spent on housing, despite the acknowledged need for more affordable housing in the borough. 

Newham has also been handed millions in payments from developers in lieu of social housing provision where “exceptionally” it has been judged impractical to provide it.

Hopefully (I’m not holding my breath) our newly elected local councillors will ask the questions residents want answered: where are the affordable homes we desperately need and where has the new homes bonus and S106 money been spent?

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