Lewisham council defend their house-building record: One social-rented home built last year

BY JAMES TWOMEY
james@slpmedia.co.uk

Town hall officials defended their record of house building after it emerged they only put up one cheap home in 2017-18.

Lewisham council has come under scrutiny from residents for not building enough social or affordable rent properties, despite its promise to build 1,000 social homes by 2022-23.

The information taken from City Hall’s London Development Database shows that one social rent unit and five affordable rent units were built in the borough, in the 12 months up to May last year, when Damien Egan, elected Mayor that month, stopped being the cabinet member for housing.

Resident Patrycja Borecka said in last week’s full Lewisham council meeting: “I would like a breakdown of exactly what type of properties were completed; number of council flats, properties for housing associations and private housing, within the period from 2013/2014-2017/2018.

“I would like information about where more will be provided.”

The database shows that the council had built 110 social rent houses between, 2016-17 compared to one last year, and 98 affordable rent houses, compared to five in 2017-18.

A Lewisham council spokeswoman said: “Building affordable housing in Lewisham is a top priority.

“The low affordable housing figures in Lewisham during 2017–18 are due to the phasing of large regeneration schemes, where the number of net completions does not reflect the actual delivery of new affordable homes on site.

“This is especially the case where existing affordable housing stock is being upgraded to contemporary standards, or where subsequent phases of development sites will deliver higher levels of affordable housing.

“During 2017–18, 13 per cent of the supply of new homes has been the replacement of older, outdated affordable housing units that have been demolished and re-provided.”

Lewisham’s population is projected to increase to 318,000 by 2021 making it the second fastest growing borough in the city.

Councillor Paul Bell replied to a public question from a resident at the council meeting regarding the issue and said: “The council is committed to delivering 1,000 social homes of varying sizes and types; these will not all be flats.

We have a pressing need for larger family accommodation and where we can provide houses to meet these demands, we will endeavour to do so.

“The process of site selection and due diligence has resulted in a number of development opportunities to be progressed to help meet this objective.

“These are currently being considered by councillors and we will look forward to sharing this more widely in the coming weeks.

“The figures are for new build developments only. It does not include ‘vacant homes brought back into use’ through targeted enforcement action, which for monitoring purposes, is factored towards overall housing delivery figures.”

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