After the Labour lies in Brighton, here is the truth about the West Ken estate and our housing plans.
Here are the facts on H&F Council's housing record and policies:
- Our aim, stated in our Local Development Framework, is to build at least 6,500 new homes by 2021 (+31% above current London Plan target). 50% to be affordable with no reduction in the amount of social rented housing (by hab room).
- Affordable housing: We have built 1,667 affordable homes in our first term compared to 888 under the previous Labour administration (nearly double). Source: HSSA return to DCLG and anticipated completions for 2009/10.
- New build affordable housing 2006-10: 1,667 total - 797 new intermediate homes vs 150 under Labour built & 877 social rent vs 738 under Labour. Source: HSSA return to DCLG and anticipated completions for 2009/10
- Disposals: Out of 13,000 council homes of which 3,025 are street dwellings we have disposed of 17 street properties under our limited disposals policy.
- Homelessness prevention: Acceptances at record low of 250 in 2007/08 (further reduced to 116 April - Dec 08) with 500 homelessness prevention cases successfully completed.
- Temporary accommodation: Ahead of 910 DCLG target by April 2010. Just
under 1000 (991) people in temporary accommodation from a 2005 baseline under Labour of 1820.
- Use of B&B: No families or 16/17 year olds for the past 18 months in B&B.
- Social housing allocations: Lone parents incentivised into work (10 have so far secured employment).
- Empty properties: 350 empty properties brought into use (50 for social housing). Best performance in West London.
- Housing management: 71% of tenants satisfied with the overall services provided by the council's ALMO H&F HOMES in 2009 (an increase of 6% from 2006/7).
- Housing advice: Selected by DCLG as 1 of 11 Enhanced Housing Options trailblazers to modernize Housing Advice Services and based at 145 King Street.
- On estates redevelopment: We need to spend £1 billion over the next 30 years just to keep existing council housing in reasonable repair. We will build before we knock down. We will consider redevelopment ONLY if we can offer our tenants and leaseholders better housing in any new development and we have issued them with a cast-iron guarantee that they can stay in the local area in an affordable home of their choice. Southwark Council are decanting and demolishing 6,500 homes now. Hackney Council are about to demolish 1,840 homes in Woodberry Down to build over 3000 new home. Newham Council are demolishing 1,700 mainly public sector housing units in Canning Town with reduction from 67% to 50% social housing and Greenwich Council are demolishing 1906 on the Ferrier/Kidbrooke Estate to build 4000 new homes.
Our so-called "radical demolition policy" currently extends to 80 homes in Watermeadow Court where we have been able to rehouse tenants in the new Imperial Wharf development. Over the last 10 years under Labour 400 units of social rented housing were demolished and replaced with social rented, shared ownership and market housing (on Townmead, Maystar and Gibbs Green estates).
- Social housing reform: On the Localis pamphlet that I co-authored with John Moss we should remember that the national debate on social housing reform was initiated by Caroline Flint and there is a consensus amongst housing professionals that the system needs to be improved.
THE WEST KENSINGTON ESTATE.
The estate was built by a Labour Council in the early 70s . They acquired land from British Rail. The builders were Taylor Woodrow who did such an appalling job that the council went into dispute in the
High Court. Within a couple of years more was spent on estate refurbishment to put things right than on the original cost of construction! It is in a pretty shabby state today.
Development will go ahead right next to West Ken estates (TfL depot plus Earls Court).
This means the estate will be next to a building site for next 10-15 years.
The Council must explore what opportunities there are to benefit the residents of the West Kensington estate. Residents must not miss out on the opportunities that might result from such a significant regeneration on their doorstep. I recognise that we must work closely with local residents to ensure that they and their families get the best deal possible from any regeneration that takes place.
We are considering redevelopment in order to offer our tenants and leaseholders better housing in any new development. We will build before we knock down and have issued a cast iron guarantee that they will all be rehoused locally. Our policy is no reduction in the amount of social housing and we have built nearly 900 new social rented homes in our first term.
We want to enhance the exhibition and conference facilities (international convention centre).
We want to make sure that density levels are acceptable.
The gerrymandering accusations and Porter slurs are downright lies.
Our housing and regeneration aspirations are borough wide but focused on providing a ladder of housing opportunity and improving the worst performing and poor quality neighbourhoods to the benefit of existing and future local residents.
In a borough with the 4th highest house prices in the country there is currently little prospect of those living in either social or private rented accommodation to progress into homeownership. Little more that 1-2% of the housing stock (1,200 units out of an estimated 80K dwellings) in Hammersmith & Fulham is low cost homeownership housing whilst 33% of the stock is social rented. Where are the opportunities for those low to middle income households wanting to stay in the borough to progress and own? The ladder of housing opportunity is currently missing most of the middle rungs in Hammersmith & Fulham.
This is why the borough has moved in recent years to encouraging the development of low cost home ownership housing (including rent to buy) available to those on low to middle incomes (£19K to £60K) boosting the development of such housing from 150 units in the 4 years before April 2006 to an estimated 772 completions by the end of April 2010.
Hammersmith & Fulham’s Housing Strategy is based on empowering individuals and families to help themselves and take up the opportunities that are and will be developed. One key corporate and housing related aspiration is based on improving employment levels particularly in the worst performing neighbourhoods which are all our Council estates (including: Charecroft Estate, Edward Woods Estate, Clem Attlee Estate, Fulham Court / Lancaster Court, White City Estate, Wormholt Estate).
It is about helping families and individuals meet their aspirations to be homeowners which over 70% of our Council tenants have said they want to be (STATUS survey 2007).
These are ambitious plans that in some aspect are still in development as they do not fit neatly with the fixed housing policy and tenure thinking of many housing professionals and politicians. Although equally more and more (such as NHHG, Places for People and indeed the Chartered Institute of Housing) are thinking outside the box in identifying the need for flexible tenure offers and in linking housing offers with work offers (bringing opportunity back into the social housing offer rather than perpetuating the “race to the bottom” as Sir Robin Wales Mayor of Newham would put it).
It is about meeting housing needs better (tackling overcrowding) and increasing opportunities so there is increased mobility in and out of the large stock of social housing there is in the borough. At the moment however many of our social tenants are stuck and cannot move even if they want to. This is also a problem for those who at this moment need social housing as social housing units are not being freed up as in the past they were particularly as people made the move into home ownership.
Additionally, the reality is that no Council, regional authority or Government now works on the basis that we can build their way out of housing need by developing (a lot) more social rented homes. This is unrealistic and in a borough such as Hammersmith & Fulham with a high percentage of social rented homes merely adds and compounds problems in areas of concentrated deprivation (see Hills report and quotes below).
The Government for sometime has been directly promoting through its homelessness initiatives prevention and use of the private rented sector as one solution to meeting housing need. In this respect if Hammersmith & Fulham Council is so disconnected from Government directed housing policy why are we an Enhanced Housing Options trail blazer, why do we have an excellent reputation and track record for tackling and preventing homelessness and why are the Government so interested in our range of initiatives to assist those in housing need into a range of accommodation options including those available in the private rented sector?
Also our housing policies cannot be looked at in isolation. The council also has duties upon it to “place make”. There are clear requirements set out in national housing and planning policies to develop mixed, sustainable and complimentary new development (a mix of market, low cost and social rented housing), to improve poor performing neighbourhoods and to deliver mixed and sustainable communities. However all too often the chase for affordable housing targets has neglected the impact of development on neighbourhoods. In White City for instance before the White City Collaborative Care Centre application was approved, of the 207 units built over the last 5-10 years 149 were social rent and there was no market housing built. Why no market housing in a ward where over 45% of the stock is social rented already with some neighbourhoods in that ward having levels of social rented housing of more than 70%. Why not more of an emphasis on the development of low cost homeownership housing when there is only just under 2% of this type in the ward. Where do low to middle income households move if they want to buy?
Our regeneration plans are about offering local residents better homes and better neighbourhoods to live in. It is not about displacing local residents from where they want to live. It is about improving neighbourhoods which despite millions of pounds being spent on them are still some of the most deprived in the country
with generally lower levels of satisfaction with neighbourhoods and services.
For too long Council tenants and those living on our Council estates have been offered second best with quick and short term fixes which have not dealt with some of the fundamental issues about the poor physical environment and lower levels of satisfaction with neighbourhood found on our estates.
We want to address these fundamental, engrained and continuing issues (which have not been dealt with) and give back opportunity to local residents through our development of a Decent Neighbourhood Standard which includes a social regeneration programme aimed at increasing employment and other social and health outcomes and development of a broader range of housing offers which includes social rent and low
cost home ownership housing.
There is also the plain fact that the Council must plan for the future in terms of maintaining and improving its stock. The public purse is reducing however there is a need to maintain stock into the future. The Council owns over 13K Council properties that it is going to have to maintain and improve over the next 20-30 years. Many of our Council blocks do not have lifts (of 508 medium rise mansion or deck access blocks only 85 (17%) have lift access), are not as accessible as they should be and are energy inefficient. The total cost of improvements and anticipated responsive repairs to the existing stock is £1.2bn over 30 years with a contingency of 5% for unanticipated works. This does not take account of VAT or fees and it is at current prices so has not been adjusted for inflation. There is also only relatively small amount factored in for general estate improvements (£1/2m to fund minor estate improvements).
It does not include a number of major items such as installation of lifts which is sorely needed I would suggest in a number of our walk up blocks. How can the Council afford to maintain and do all the work that is required without looking at its asset base and determining how it will fund these works if Government resources are not as available as they have been?
This is not withstanding the considerable debt that the Council is already carrying of over £300m arising in large part from the decent homes programme.
We want to provide a better mix of housing including a higher proportion of family housing and housing that is accessible, energy efficient and safe. Most of the affordable housing developed on sites with a capacity of 10 or more should be some form of intermediate housing or social rented housing where there is a greater opportunity to own a stake in that housing.
There are a number of context points against which developments will be assessed – satisfactory overall affordability of housing to suit a range of household incomes, social tenants being offered some stake in their housing (equity stake or saving incentive plan) and high quality housing being offered across the tenures.
Our aim then is to promote and secure a mix of affordable homes including both low cost home ownership and rented as well as market housing. Our aim is also to provide a mix of housing types and sizes all designed to lifetime homes standards with 10% wheelchair accessible.
Along with new development the borough is committed to work to release existing social rented housing through tenant incentive schemes and first time buyer initiatives.
I will reiterate a commitment I have made many times which is that there will be no reduction in council rented housing. Improvements will be delivered with the minimum of disruption. Commitments will be made in relation to local rehousing. Leaseholder and freeholder investments will be protected.
National Context – the debate on the future of social housing and the need to rethink public housing policy.
The former Labour Housing Minister Chris Leslie has said: "I think it is absolutely right to start asking the question can we help people throughout the most difficult parts of their lives rather than just seeing a council house as a house for perpetuity." (Address to Fabian Society February 2008.)
The speech by the then Housing and Planning Minister Caroline Flint essentially kicked off the debate as to the future role of social housing she said: “Because I do think that we need this national debate about the role of social housing in the twenty first century”. There is: "a worsening picture of increasing levels of worklessness among social tenants - and it's just not good enough. Today, more than half of all households in the social sector have no working aged adults employed. This has been called a 'collapse' in employment rates among social tenants. And it's a major contributor to inter-generational poverty - with some children growing up without ever seeing an adult get up and off to work in the morning.
"Originally, council housing brought together people from different social backgrounds and professions but this has declined. We need to think radically and start a national debate about how we can reverse this trend, to build strong, diverse estates."
She added: "Many social tenants have a real appetite for change and self-improvement. Most say they'd like to own their own home. And if we don't work together to unlock their potential, then we are failing to live up to our responsibilities."
She also said in the same speech that there should be a “realistic and in depth” conversation about housing options. She was essentially flagging that social renting was not the only option or indeed the “right one” as there were other options in the private rented and low cost home ownership sector.
Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham says: “Many council estates have become what they were fighting in the first place – social ghettos.”
There is a growing consensus across the housing profession, academicand political spectrum that the current social housing model is broken and needs to be fixed.
The Hills Review (Nov 2007) - influential in setting the agenda for creating mixed economic communities. Recommends that landlords should take steps to diversify their stock by developing sites within council estates for other purposes and seeking to obtain social housing away from these estates. This is part of LBHF’s regeneration strategy. It also recommends that councils should integrate employment and housing advice, on the basis that success in the former can reduce demand for the latter. This is being developed by LBHF.
Quotes from Hills:
“If ensuring that social tenants can live in mixed-income areas is a key potential advantage of social housing, we do not seem to be achieving it….new building of social housing is still disproportionately in the most deprived neighbourhoods. These areas are far more likely to suffer from problems than others, and for tenants to report neighbourhood problems.”
“In the areas originally built as flatted council estates: more than a fifth of social tenants report the presence of drug users or dealers as a serious problem; nearly a fifth the general level of crime, fear of being burgled, vandalism and litter; and 18 per cent that they feel unsafe alone even at home or outside in daylight. One in seven social tenants in these areas says they are very dissatisfied with their neighbourhood.”
“The combination of much social housing having been built in the 1950s and 1960s as estates (originally containing families with a mix of incomes) and the increasingly needs-based access to the sector since the 1980s has exacerbated polarisation on the ground, rather than countering the effects of market forces”.
“Promoting and sustaining mixed-income communities may help reduce negative “neighbourhood effects” and improve labour market integration.”
A Housing Corporation report: The public value of social housing. (March 2008) indicates a relationship between being in social housing tenure and social and economic disadvantage amongst some age groups, and suggests that more should be done to tackle financial and social exclusion on estates. It supports our Hammersmith and Fulham approach to increasing employment opportunity as part of the regeneration programme.
The Housing Corporation’s fifth residents' panel survey looked at the experiences and expectations of social housing, and the effects on tenants' lives and employment chances. The largest proportion (44 percent) stated that they had always thought they would own their own property, and 31 percent agreed that tenure mixing would improve things for social housing tenants.
Planning policy: PPS3 provides an enabling framework for local planning authorities, working with their stakeholders, including developers, to deliver both the right quantity of housing to address need and demand in their areas, and the right quality and mix of housing for their communities.
White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities (October 2006) – stresses the importance of councils as “place shapers” giving leadership to social and economic regeneration through Local Strategic Partnerships.
The most recent analysis by the Fabian Society in their Policy Report 62 “In the Mix” identified the following: “….concentrated public housing is not just a symptom of poverty and disadvantage but also a cause”.
Page ix: “By the age of 30, public housing tenants born in 1970 are twice as likely as the population as a whole to suffer from mental health problems, 11 times more likely to be not in employment education or
training and nine times more likely to live in a workless household”.
Page ix: “As many middle class homeowners, first time buyers, and people living in cities know, housing policy has failed across many social groups. And this is being made worse by the recession”.
The Chartered Institute of Housing in their 2008 response to the Communities and Local Government Housing Reform Progarmme advocated:
- A move towards flexible tenure and tenure reviews. CIH identified that they would welcome a move to a system of housing tenure and management offering more choice, and that is capable of responding to changing circumstances and aspirations. Effectively they were advocating a move
away from security of tenure to developing housing pathways which met and recognised a households changing needs, requirements and demands. the CIH suggest the tenure review could lead to a number of things happening (roll over of existing tenancy, advice on private rent options being given, home ownership options being taken up). The CIH recognised that existing social tenants would retain any security of tenure that they had.
- Joined up approach to mobility. CIH would like to see the opportunity for tenants to have a greater choice of providers and a stronger ability to move for jobs or social needs.
- Improving access. CIH believes work is needed to look at how to improve choice of private rental accommodation for tenants, especially those in receipt of housing benefit.
The Housing Futures Network was established in 2008 to examine the future of social housing in the UK. Its members are five of the largest housing providers in the country; Affinity Sutton, Gentoo, L&Q, Places for People and Riverside Housing Group. In 2009 the Network published “Homes for Tomorrow” proposing a number of housing reforms including:
- A new housing access system that would establish the ‘optimal’ tenure mix, according to local market conditions and lettings would be made to maintain the desired mix, subject to regular reviews.
- There needed to be revision of statutory obligations to homeless households, which can sometimes create perverse incentives for applicants to make and/or present themselves as homeless or
- Greater rent flexibility is essential to an effective housing association social and economic contribution going forward. Their view was that subsidised affordable rents should be based on the local market rent and should reflect the size and quality of home.
- Although they advocated that permanent tenancies should continue they believed that this should not necessarily confer permanent significantly subsidised rents. They did however advocate the
development of a flexible tenure product which recreates the bridge through from the social product to the market product. The product would allow purchase on a staged or full basis, and move to renting subject to circumstances. The equity funding would be repaid from sales receipt when the market picks up.
- Housing Benefit needed major reform. A portable housing allowance they believed would help people to make their own choices about appropriate housing for them.
The Tenancy Services Authority has also begun to consult on national standards (June 2009). They have identified:
- The preference identified by the TSA is to provide as a secure a form of tenancy as possible. However the TSA have identified that there may be circumstances where less secure forms of tenancies may be justifiable in for instance areas where demand for homes significantly outstrips supply, and the use of other tenure options may be more appropriate to meeting housing need and creating mixed-income communities.
- In terms of allocation also the TSA propose a landlord standard. The key priority here identified is to ensure Landlords should let their homes in a fair and clear way responding to housing needs and aspirations, maximises choice and geographic mobility and also contribute to creating mixed and sustainable communities.
TSA Report - growing up in Social Housing in Britain (June 2009) - a profile of four generations from 1946 to the present day. (TSA, June 2009).
- Study examined socio-economic circumstances of those living in social housing compared to others (cohorts - born in1948, 1985, 1970, 2000).
- For current generation, socio-economic gap between children in social housing and other tenures wider than for any previous generation - attributed to the fact that social housing has become "safety net" provision over the years.
- Those living in social housing as children worse off as adults in terms of education, health, wellbeing and employment than their peers.
- For those born 1958 - 1970, living in social housing associated with worse adult outcomes compared to peers regardless of their family background (level of education/work/housing conditions, etc) of parents. Worse for those born 1970 than 1958).
- Women fare worse in these cohorts.
- Report recommends that: (1) there needs to be a joined-up social policy response to address this relative disadvantage (childcare and educational reforms) and that housing policy cannot crack it alone, but (2) that housing policy changes could help redress some of these disadvantages by (e.g.) increasing the social mix within social housing alongside portraying it as a more desirable form of tenure (e.g. on a par with home-ownership) than currently to ensure mixed take-up.
Rethinking social housing 2008 – The Smith Institute/Housing Corporation/Grainger Trust PLC
- In answer to the question is social housing policy working the paper concluded: “Overall the view appears to be that the basics of the current approach are fundamentally flawed. This is because they are based on a welfare approach to housing which may have been appropriate in the 1950s and 1960s, but is now outmoded”. The paper went on to identify: “The unreformed social housing system, arguably, is sustaining rather than reducing welfare dependency, housing poverty, asset inequality and inherited deprivation”.
- Recommended actions included: the dismantling of social housing estates (“A statutory obligation, and national strategy, to break up existing concentrations of deprivation in every local authority in the UK, beginning with estates dominated by social housing”), A ‘whole neighbourhood’ approach to mixing tenure (“No more development of single tenure social housing schemes. A new ‘tenure fluid’ neighbourhood approach would be preferable to having individual properties fossilised by tenure at the outset”), an end to assured and secured tenancies “to create a wider single rented tenancy which does not necessarily assume a tenancy for life”.
Sustainable Communities - LGA Labour Group submission to the National Policy Forum
Two seminars took place in December 2007 and January 2008 at which 140 councillors attended from 75 different local authorities. Hazel Blears MP, Pat McFadden MP, Liam Byrne MP, Meg Hillier MP and Beverley Hughes MP also took part in the seminars.
There were a range of recommendation arising from the seminar including recommendations made in respect to Promoting mixed and sustainable communities:
- “We need to push the argument for mixed communities, and the approach should be to ‘scatter’ new social housing around an area, not concentrate it in zones - It was widely felt that diversity of tenure in areas was a good thing”.
- “A number of participants in our Wolverhampton seminar gave examples in their areas where high density was imposed on areas of highest need and higher social deprivation. So the challenge remains in delivering the aspiration of diversity of housing in areas where there is already a domination of social housing”.
Facts and Figures about Hammersmith & Fulham
Deprivation and House Price:
- According to the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) 2007, Hammersmith & Fulham is within the top 40 most deprived in England (ranked 38th from 354 local authorities and 13th out of the 33 London boroughs).
- 70% of the councils housing stock is now located on housing estates. 22.5%of council rented dwellings are based within 66 high rise blocks and a further 60% are within 1,213 medium rise blocks.
- The average 2 bed rent in the borough is £360 per week according to April 2009 Hometrack information.
- The average house price recorded by the Land Registry in the borough in April 2009 was £424,543. Although house prices have fallen in recent times the average house price in April 2004 was £335,295. This means that house prices over the last 5 years have increased by 27%.
- The average income in the borough (estimated from local data in 2008) identified the average income as £41,662 and average savings at £6,267.
- This provides a income to house price ratio of 10:1.
- However barely 1-2% of the stock in the borough is low cost homeownership housing.
Housing Stock and New build
It is estimated that social rented housing has increased its stock by nearly 7% since 1981 with an estimated 33%-34% of housing in the borough being social rented (Inner London 33%, London is around 25% and England 19.3%), owner occupation is around 44% (London 57%, England 69%). The issues in relation to developing more mixed and balanced communities is that social rented housing is also becoming increasingly concentrated in larger social rented estates that present a range of challenges both for those who live on those estates (crime and ASB, higher levels of employment, poorer health, lower levels of satisfaction) and for those providing services to those estates.
The five neighbourhoods with the highest levels of unemployment continue to be those with large council estates in them. Shared ownership or low cost housing of any kind makes up little more than 1-2% of the stock in the borough. Where are the housing offers for those on low to middle incomes?
In the first four years of this Administration 1,625 units of affordable housing (gross) have or will be built compared to 872 in the previous four years. (Source HSSA returns to the DCLG and projected completions for 2009/10) 711 are or will be social rented housing (gross) compared to a build of 680 prior to this Administration on the returns submitted to the DCLG.
Anticipated completions for 2010/11 is uncertain given the recession. 351 units are anticipated with 157 (45%) of these units anticipated as being affordable. No social rented is planned however there are a number of developments that may come forward (e.g. social rent units at the Lots Road site where there is planning permission for 184 social rent units or on some RSL acquired sites where there have been no detailed discussions in relation to tenure mix (e.g. the old VW Garage site acquired by NHHG).
Planning Committee recommends approval with the actual decision being given when the Section 106 agreement is signed. In terms of planning decisions that have taken place since April 2006 (which in large part will be approvals undertaken under this Administration). Development of 2,483 units have been approved so far. 1099 or 44% of approvals have been for affordable housing with 397 (36%) units being social rented and 702 (64%) being either low cost home ownership or intermediate rented accommodation. These are all gross figures.
If Planning Committee recommendations are reviewed using planning application records, since May 2006 a total of 184 social rent and 541 intermediate have been recommended for approval giving a total of 725.
The most recently published completions information (GLA London Annual Monitoring Report Feb 2009) is for 2007/08. This information showed the following:
- 38% of completions in London in that year were affordable (net of demolitions and loss of stock).
- 46% of net completions in H&F were affordable. Examples of other %s: Lewisham: 29%, Westminster: 49%, Greenwich: 36%, Ealing: 29%, Southwark: 58%, Newham: 40%.
- 51% of the housing developed in London that was affordable was social rented. Lewisham: 29%, Westminster: 94%, Greenwich: 39%, Ealing: 70%, Southwark: 44%, Newham: 31.4%.
H&F Council has agreed its affordable housing targets with the Mayor of London. We have agreed to enable the supply of 967 affordable homes from all forms of available supply over the next 3 years (2008/09 – 2010/11). The target has been developed using an agreed government methodology.
In relation to White City Collaborative Care Centre which is often mentioned;
- 46.2% social rented housing in the ward compared to 33-34% for the borough and 25% for London.
- The Centre site sits between 2 of the largest council estates in the borough. Is it logical to build more social rented housing in an area where social rented housing predominates? (White City Estate (2037 units) with 73.3% social rented housing and Wormholt Estate 46.4% social housing (some 800 homes).
- The low cost home ownership in the borough is little more than 1.9% of the total stock. This is also one of the few (but hopefully not the first) where there is an intention to develop 3 bed family lost cost homeownership housing (seven units being developed).
- White City is the 2nd most deprived area in the borough and Wormholt Estate is the 4th most deprived area in the borough according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2007.
- The low cost home ownership units being developed are affordable to households on a broad range of incomes (average income of £39,750 pa (i.e. the midpoint £18,100 - £61, 400 income range as set by the GLA through an established formula).
At 15th July 2009 there have been 17 sales of street properties since 2006 under the Councils limited disposal policy. There are 14 dwellings awaiting sale under the policy although 11 are being held back until the Council is more confident about purchase of larger family units. There have been sales of 10 hostel properties with these properties being sold as a result of a reducing demand for such accommodation as the number of homelessness acceptances have reduced. Sales of street dwellings under the limited disposal policy represent since 2006 .5% of street stock and 0.04% of total stock. For every one social rent property we have sold since 2006 there has been development of just over 45 new build social rent units to replace the one lost.
The Council has an exemplary record in tackling homelessness:
- In 2008/09 the Council accepted 172 households as homeless (one of the lowest acceptance rates in London). This is a significant decrease on the figure of 600 five years ago.
- As a result the number of households in temporary accommodation currently stands at just over a 1000 and again this number has significantly declined over the last five years, when the figure was
1,824. As a result the Council is on track to meet the DCLG’s target of reducing the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation to 915 by April 2010.
- In 08/09 609 households homelessness was prevented, an increase of 554 on 07/08.
- The vast majority of households accepted as homeless will be offered self contained accommodation very quickly. The percentage of households housed in bed and breakfast at any one time (in large part placed as emergencies) is less than 4% (April 2009).
- The Council assisted in 2008/09 over 900 households into self contained accommodation in the private rented sector. This is an activity supported and promoted by the Government and DCLG and a key factor in Hammersmith and Fulham and other councils across London being able to meet housing need.
Lettings and The Councils Housing Register
The housing register is not a good measure of unmet housing demand and merely indicates that most Councils need a deeper understanding of what help people need not just with their housing but with a range of social, economic and employment issues.
- The number of social rent lettings available per annum is decreasing slowly over the years. As a comparison in 2002/03 1.158 lettings were achieved and in 2008/09 973 lettings were achieved. In large part however reducing lets from initial analysis can be attributed to a slow down in relets indicating a slowing down in mobility in and out of stock. For instance overall the reduction in lettings in the Council sector has reduced by 27% when 02/03 and 08/09 figures are compared (although there is annual variation in lettings). This is against a backdrop of declining RTB sales. This lack of mobility can be attributed to a number of factors including over the same period significant increases in house prices (see above).
- Anyone can register on the Councils housing register and this is the same for virtually all Councils in England. This can include people who are already adequately housed, people who are not resident in the borough and people who can afford to buy.
- The total number registered on the housing register (including existing social rented tenants looking to transfer) at April 2009 was 10,980. The number on the housing register is increasing with the
number registered in April 2008 being 8,500. This is not dissimilar to other boroughs who are also seeing increasing numbers of households register and homeownership options become further out of reach particularly with tighter lending criteria being put in place.
However, to leave the analysis there does not present the whole story:
- Of the 10,980 on the register 33% are in what is called Band D of the register. This band indicates that they have not demonstrated housing need and the Council is not obliged to consider their housing needs.
- 89% are in bands C & D with 10% being in the urgent priority bands and A and B.
- The fact is that of the some 56% of households in Band C who have some reasonable preference for housing little is known about many of these households other than what was stated when the household originally applied to go onto the register.
- Indeed when the Council undertook a refresh exercise on the register in 2008 there was a reduction of over 10% of those registered who had either moved or were no longer in their view requiring housing.
- 31% of those on the register have never even bid (at 10th June 2009), 44.3% have not bid in the last 12 months and just under 52% of those on the register have not bid in the last 6 months.
- 14.5%-15% of households on the register at any one time are Council tenants looking to transfer as they view their current accommodation to be unsuitable. This is around 11%-12% of all Council tenants housed. Over 35% of those looking to transfer are overcrowded. Many need to move because the accommodation they live in is not suitable in some way. Estate regeneration can help to address issues of unsuitability in terms of creating larger family dwellings and accommodation that meets lifetime homes requirements in terms of accessibility.
- There are just over 2,000 households on the Councils Homeownership Register. An analysis of those who have brought at a new development in the borough has identified that: 56% of those who had purchased had income of £30,000 pa or less 18% had incomes of between £ 30,001 - £ 40,000 pa 25% had income of £40,001 - £ 60,000 pa
- An analysis of recent schemes identified that 79% of all sales of shared ownership in the borough went to households with some form of connection which given the market conditions at the time of marketing most of these units is welcome although not want we would want to see.
- Some shared ownership schemes have achieved nearer to 90%-100% sale to residents or those working in the borough. However one scheme (Larden Road, Factory Quarter) achieved only 50% in relation to its first tranche of sales. This was disappointing both for the Council and the developing RSL and work is being done to improve future sales and lettings.
- The Council also recognise that more needs to be done to assist those low income households with deposits. The Council is therefore developing on its current tenant incentives schemes to develop a
reward and purchase scheme and looking at opportunities to develop further its first time buyer schemes.
Estate regeneration has been a key component over the last 10-15 years in the borough of producing better homes and better neighbourhoods for local residents. It is nothing unusual but part of any Councils
responsibility to provide better homes and better neighbourhoods:
Over the last 10 years or so over 400 units of social rented housing has been demolished in the borough and replaced with a mixture of social rented, shared ownership and a small element of market housing. Additional benefits have also been achieved such as a new nursery and new community facilities.
Major Estate Regenerations
The trend in many London local authorities is to consider the opportunities for major estate regeneration and neighbourhood transformation which in large part is housing led through the development of mixed tenure developments:
- Woodberry Down, Hackney – the vision is to develop a community of 10,000 people living close to the Manor House transport interchange. They see Woodberry Down as a large, inclusive, sustainable community which is based on both respect for cultural, social and economic diversity and the recognition of common values, and where individuals acknowledge their responsibilities to the wider community and their commitment to the maintenance of a safe and healthy neighbourhood. There are currently 1840 homes and the aim is to deliver 3,000 new homes. This will be a mixed tenure scheme replacing social rented housing and providing market and intermediate units.
- Aylesbury Estate, Southwark – a £2.5bn estate regeneration scheme that will provide a 4,200 dwelling mixed tenure scheme.
- The Grahame Park Estate, Barnet – the proposed major regeneration of the Grahame Park Estate in Colindale, North West London. A partnership between Countryside properties, Genesis Housing Group and Notting Hill Housing Trust, in conjunction with London Borough of Barnet and local
residents. Grahame Park Estate, built in the 1970's as a key part of the London Borough of Barnet's housing provision. It comprised of 1,777 homes with commercial premises and community facilities. Early plans for Grahame Park involved the demolition of 1,317 homes with 460 being retained and 2,940 new homes being built. It is proposed that this will include 2,025 homes for sale and 915 affordable homes for rent and shared ownership provided under design and build contracts.
- Green Man Estate, Ealing - The project will involve the phased demolition of the existing estate and the provision of 346 affordable and 91 shared ownership, new build homes as well as community
facilities and public spaces. An onsite energy centre will provide combined heat and power for all homes and facilities, with 20% of the development’s energy requirements to be generated on site from renewable energy sources. An additional 309 homes will be built for outright sale in a joint venture between REAL, Rydon’s regeneration arm, and A2Dominion Enterprises.
- Kidborke Regeneration (Ferrier Estate), Greenwich - Under the plans – which represent one of Europe’s largest housing regeneration schemes – the existing sink estate will be demolished and 4,000 homes will be built. It will also include shops, offices, a school, a health centre, sports facilities and more than 50ha of open space. Demolition of the estate has already begun, with the first residents expected to move in next year. The council has also given the go-ahead to the detailed proposal for phase one of the regeneration. This includes 449 houses and apartments – 220 for private sale and 229 affordable homes.
- Major regeneration schemes underway in Lewisham include - Sundermead Estate (phased demolition of the 177 existing homes and the reprovision of 211 high quality, mixed-tenure homes. The 77 leaseholders on the estate will be given the opportunity to purchase their new homes through equity and shared ownership schemes). Silwood and Honor Oak Estate and others proposed including Heathside and Lethbridge (The scheme comprises 1200 mixed tenure homes and will combine with commercial and community uses) and Milford Towers.
- Ocean NDC Regeneration Area in Tower Hamlets – the development brief identified the following objectives include improving existing dwellings, improving the external environment, providing private amenity space where possible, improving safety and security, meeting the needs of the less able bodied, integration of housing into the surrounding area and providing modern facilities/services amenity. 1021 homes it was planned would be refurbished, 543 demolished and 1337 homes provided (41% classed as affordable and low cost home ownership).
- Newham - Canning Town and Custom House - The different tenures will be 'pepper potted' throughout the development creating a truly mixed, sustainable community. The dwellings will consist of medium and low rise apartments, maisonettes and houses, with a strong emphasis on