827 council homes to be lost in estate regenerations

Barnet's Labour councillors have obtained information confirming that a net 827 council homes for social rent will be lost as part of the estate regenerations at Grahame Park, West Hendon, Stonegrove/Spur Road and Dollis Valley. 

The council home losses were discussed at this week's Housing Committee meeting after Labour's Cllr Adam Langleben submitted the information in a Member's Item to the committee.

Labour councillors on the committee tried to amend the council's draft Housing Strategy to ensure that the council always replace any council homes on a like-for-like basis as a minimum if they are to be demolished in regeneration schemes, and that 50% of all new homes should be affordable, but this was blocked under the pretext that they were matters for the Planning Committee. 

The economic case for building more social homes for rent has been made in a newly published study by Capital Economics for The National Federation of ALMOs and the non-partisan Social Housing Under Threat (SHOUT) campaign.

The study states that "the current allocation of public expenditure to housing does not take into account the future higher costs to the welfare system of meeting higher rents in the private rented sector and 'affordable rent' social housing. It is therefore a form of fiscal myopia: saving pennies in the short term only to waste pounds in the future."

The lack of affordable housing in Barnet is the second highest concern for local people according to the council's last Residents' Perception Survey.

Labour have now referred the Housing Strategy to the Full Council meeting on 28 July for further discussion.

Labour’s Housing Spokesperson, Cllr Ross Houston, said: "We have a housing crisis where even middle income earners are struggling to afford soaring rents, and those on low incomes are finding themselves in real hardship. 

"The huge loss of council homes has resulted in more and more people being placed in expensive accommodation in the private rented sector and this just ends up costing the tax payer more as the benefits bill balloons. 

"The council should be replacing the council homes that are lost through regeneration at the very least, and it should be looking at different models of affordable rent that are not linked to market rents which are unsustainable, but linked to local incomes so that people can reduce their reliance on welfare. 

"These estate regeneration programmes make large profits for developers. Other London councils have achieved a minimum of like for like replacement of council homes on similar schemes - it is not acceptable that Barnet is unable or unwilling to do this.

"The council also should be ensuring that so-called affordable shared-ownership homes really are genuinely affordable so that we can help people meet their aspirations to own their own home, but the housing strategy barely pays lip service to looking at other models of housing like co-operative and mutual housing that might help increase the supply of affordable homes for ownership.

"The Housing Strategy is not nearly ambitious enough and it is complete nonsense to say that an expectation on replacement of council homes and targets for increasing the supply of affordable homes for ownership and rent cannot be addressed in it."

Ends.

Notes: 

1. A copy of Cllr Langleben's Member’s Item can be found here: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s24070/Members%20Item%20Report.pdf 

2. Details of the number of council homes lost through estate regenerations can be found here: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s23434/Appendix%20A_LBB_Fore 

3. A copy of "Building new social rent homes: An economic appraisal" by Capital Economics can be found here:

http://www.almos.org.uk/news_item?id=7105 

4. A copy of the draft Housing Strategy can be found here:

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s24087/Housing%20Strategy%20-%20Appendix%20A.pdf

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For further details please contact:
Cllr Ross Houston: cllr.r.houston@barnet.gov.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

 

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