Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fear of key worker flight over lack of cheap homes

I read in the news today that the Mayor of London has intervened in a planning application in Hammersmith and Fulham over affordable housing, and an attempt by the Conservative administration in that Borough to reduce the number of affordable housing.

The Mayor may also want to take a closer look at Merton Council, as the minority Conservative administration are pursuing similar policies and using the same arguments as their colleagues in Hammersmith and Fulham. With their decision to abandon two affordable housing schemes(which have been called-in by the Labour opposition), the policies are similar and the below article shows the real face of Toryism.

With Shirley Porter back in town, maybe Merton and Hammersmith will be hiring her as a consultant in the New Year.

Previous | Fear of key worker flight over lack of cheap homes
Wednesday, 27th December 2006, 08:34
Category: Lifestyle
Nurses, teachers, police officers and other low paid workers could be forced out of the capital if the policy of providing cheap homes is abandoned, Ken Livingstone warned.

Controversial Mayor of London said there was a "grave danger" councils across London could tear up statutory plans to provide at least a third of affordable homes in new developments

In rejecting a council approved scheme to reduce the number of low rent homes in a massive new development, he blasted the move as "scandalous" and likened the scheme to Dame Shirley Porter's gerrymandering policies of the 1980s.

The disgraced former leader of Westminster Council was surcharged £27 million for moving poorer tenants out of affluent areas in central London and then selling the flats off cheaply in the "homes for votes" scandal.

The Tesco heiress had pleaded poverty but after an eight year legal battle agreed to pay £12.3 million to settle the debt.

London borough Hammersmith and Fulham Council had wanted to cut the number of low rent housing association homes in a large new housing development in the borough by more than a third.

The Council claimed that the cut was justified because the ward in which the development was located had more social rented homes than the London average.

The development at the old Prestolite Factory site in East Acton originally saw an application to provide 148 affordable rented homes, a third of the total number of new homes.

But in the summer the council allowed developer Genesis Housing Group to cut this number to just 65. When the Housing Corporation refused to fund the scheme, the number of low cost homes was increased to 92 low rent homes.

Mr Livingstone rejected the application as it breached the Borough's own statutory plan which, like the London Plan, requires that 35 per cent of new housing should be affordable low rent homes to meet the huge need for such housing in London.

The Mayor said: "It is scandalous to cut new affordable rented homes and to justify this by saying that the area has enough cheap rented housing already.

"Hammersmith's actions have the stench of Shirley Porter’s regime at Westminster Council in the 1980s.

"It is completely unacceptable for any Council to turn down the offer of desperately needed affordable rented homes - especially when this contravenes planning policies.

"There is now a grave danger that all over London borough councils are tearing up previous affordable housing policies and driving down the supply of affordable new accommodation."

He said there were 2,000 homeless families in temporary accommodation in the borough alone this Christmas.

He added: "Over two thirds of London households who need new homes can only afford to do so through the social rented sector.

"That is why the London Plan - and indeed the Council's own statutory plan - requires that 35 per cent of new housing should be for low rent affordable homes, with 15 per cent for higher cost shared ownership.

"This is especially important in places like Hammersmith and Fulham where high house prices mean shared ownership is out of reach for people on lower incomes."

The Council's own figures showed that it was untrue that the ward in which the development was located had more social rented homes than the London average.

Local MP Andy Slaughter (Ealing, Acton & Shepherds Bush) said:

‘This is a blatant abuse of the planning process with the aim of limiting the amount of homes available to those in greatest need. The Council’s conduct is both improper and immoral and is a matter for the Standards Board for England which I shall be taking forward, but I am delighted the Mayor has taken decisive action on such a matter of strategic importance to both the borough and the whole of the capital.’


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