Today Lambeth council will publish ambitious plans to set up Homes for Lambeth – a company that would be 100% owned and run by the council – allowing us to tackle the housing crisis head on by building more of the homes that our residents so desperately need.
Across London the private market is failing to build the homes that local people need. High land prices and foreign speculation has driven up house prices beyond the reach of even fairly well-paid professionals – meaning that the private rented sector is housing more and more people and pushing private rents beyond the means of many ordinary families.
There are now 21,000 people on the council’s waiting list for social housing and another 60 to 80 families join the list weekly. With only 20 to 40 homes available every week, there simply aren’t enough homes available at affordable and council rents. On top of that we have over 1,850 homeless families, the vast majority with children, living in temporary accommodation and across the borough some 1,300 families are severely overcrowded. Families in high priority on our waiting list, many with disabled children, are waiting years to secure a suitable home. Lambeth is not prepared to continue leaving the provision of housing just to a private market which is failing local people.
Homes for Lambeth will allow us to build homes for council rent, intermediate rent and private rent, all with long tenancies and rent stability. Council-rent properties will be let with lifetime tenancies matching, as closely as possible, existing council tenancies with rents set in the same way as for existing council properties, at about a third of market rent.
With the council acting as a commercial developer through Homes for Lambeth we can use the 15-20% development surplus that private developers normally make and reinvest this into our communities and build more homes for local people, putting local people before private profit.
If these proposals get the go ahead at Lambeth’s Cabinet meeting on 12th October, the first phase of planned development will deliver a total of 511 new homes by September 2018, with 60% of these at council-rent levels. That means there will be 310 new homes available for those families on our waiting list in desperate need for a secure, affordable place to live.
Lambeth’s cabinet will also be asked to approve plans to rebuild most of the South Lambeth estate. This will triple the number of homes there, rebuilding all existing homes for the people who live there and building at least 100 extra homes for council rent and a further 100 homes for private renters so that Lambeth can meet the broad needs of the local population.
Over the coming years Homes for Lambeth will give the council much greater control over the pace and type of house building in the borough, so that we can meet the needs and aspirations of local families.
You can find out more about 'Homes for Lambeth' here.
Cllr Bennett is the Cabinet Member for Housing