Homes for Lambeth is “part of the problem”

Labour Party member and tenant activist Georgina Schueller, says Homes for Lambeth, the council owned private company, is part of the problem, not the solution of the housing crisis.This was her short speech to a council Cabinet meeting recently.

I haven’t had time to scrutinize your figures across all small sites which are quite opaque at the moment, so have concentrated on the estate projects. I shouldn’t have to be doing this. As our elected representatives, you are entrusted to deliver policies with our wellbeing at their heart. You have broken that trust – that’s why I’m here tonight.

Homes For Lambeth – a council owned housing delivery company set up to “meet the demands of the housing crisis” and “with a focus on homes at council level rent”.

Savills, a multinational property developer and estate agent, helped Lambeth set it up.

A Savill’s survey, shows the greatest supply shortfall is across the submarket rentals – council homes.

Within its Estates Projects, Homes For Lambeth plans to build 954 council level rent homes. Deduct 70 completed in Lollard Street for the number of council level rent homes to be built on the 6 demolition estates. 884. These are not extra council level rent homes. These are replacements. According to a Freedom of Information request, 914 council homes will be demolished across 6 estates.

So NO extra council homes.

In fact 30 FEWER than exist at now.

Meanwhile, nearly 2,500 EXTRA private properties are planned. The rest are in the so called “affordable” range. London Living Rent – Rent to Buy – for people on incomes up to £60,000. Shared Ownership – for people on incomes up to £90,000 – and an option that leaseholders may have to take up.

How is this helping the 38,000 on the housing waiting list, families in temporary accommodation and hundreds of homeless? How is this helping those on low incomes in precarious jobs and during a cost of living crisis?

Savills say : the “ Socio-economic range of households on estates raises property values as it reduces the “INDEX OF MASS DEPRIVATION”. How cynical.

Changing the demographic of council estates to over75% including Shared Ownership and Rent to Buy, will push up property values and rents, not only on the estate but in the surrounding area. This will help STOKE the housing crisis – a crisis of affordability and will push more people into the unregulated more expensive and precarious private rented sector.

All planning decisions made to demolish estates should be called in. Estate demolitions have not factored in embodied carbon, or the hellish uncertainty created for the residents, and in addition to exceptional hardship being felt by so many as a consequence of the pandemic, the cost of living crisis, fuel poverty, and a surge in mental health problems.

The solution?

Borrow to Retrofit to EnerPHit standard, sensitive infill, adding extra levels to sound structures, but with real resident consultation, more co-ops, and community land trusts

Otherwise, with your risky business plan, Homes For Lambeth – you are not the solution, you are part of the problem.

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