In welcome news a program of council house building will begin across Greenwich borough. The plan is for a number of blocks and terraces at various locations with homes for the over 60s. However the numbers built will be very small as central government places heavy restrictions on council’s building much needed homes, and Greenwich Council has one of the lowest caps in London.
Data out last week showed the private sector housing starts in London fell by a third from 25k to just 17k in 2016. Even 25k a year is far less than what is needed at 60k per annum. Since councils were effectively banned from building in the early 1980s UK home building dropped from around 300k a year to 200k in a good year. 150k was the level last year – some of the lowest for 100 years. Germany and France build at least 300k a year.
Private builders and Housing Associations build far less than needed even in good economic times and pitiful levels in bad times. That’s where the state needs to step in to maintain supply and skills which happened in the 1930s, in the 1950s during post-war austerity under Churchill and MacMillan and the 1970s with a three day week and IMF assistance.
So welcome though these schemes are, they’re a drop in the ocean. Firstly, by Maze Hill station there are plans for 15 homes at two sites on Lemmon Road and Woodlands Park Road currently occupied by garages.
The planning reference is 16/1629/F
These designs are far better than the poor quality homes put up around five years ago during previous council house building rounds which have aged poorly. Unfortunately poor designs did their best to re-affirm some people’s negative views of public house building.
Thankfully things have much improved with these new designs by Peter Barber Architects.
There’s also a valid argument to be made that these new builds, along with the previous homes beside are an under-utilisation of land directly beside a station that is 15 minutes away from Zone 1 stations such as London Bridge. There’s scope at the site for 4-5 storey buildings which could double density, which is much needed given housing pressures.
Over in Abbey Wood a garage site sees plans for 11 homes on Bevan Road. The planning reference is 16/1621/F. It’s at another former garage site seen on the right below:
10 homes are planned in Charlton near Harvey Gardens. Planning Ref: 16/1622/F
At Rochester Way in Eltham 29 homes are planned on the site of Rochester Way Social Club. Ref is 16/1579/F
The Conservative government released a new housing white paper last week that finally recognised the massive problems that exist. However a belief that the private sector can fix problems is a complete fallacy. Even with sharp price rises landbanking and slow build rates have been all too common.
And this has cost taxpayers many billions year in year out as rising rents and house prices spiral the taxpayer funds the difference, now to a tune of £25 BILLION a year and rising. Vested interests are costing taxpayers, buyers and renters dearly. A third of MPs are landlords.
It’s good to see disused garage sites used at some sites, particularly at areas like Maze Hill which has plentiful public transport on the doorstep. There’s plenty more sites that can be looked at to provide more much-needed homes but Greenwich’s plans to consult, originally expected in October 2015 has still not happened:
Ideally Greenwich Council would be able to use these sites but with central government blocking them, they could partner with developers or use their own Meridian Homes organisation.
And higher density must be pursued where permissible. They have recently built some homes on old garage site near Elverson Road DLR station. Great news, but on a site a stones throw from the DLR they commissioned low rise housing.
Around the corner is more recently built housing. Again it’s not really utilising the site for suitable density and the design is extremely poor. It’s aged terribly in just five years.