Yesterday this site looked at how Greenwich Council are building some of the fewest new homes in London using council arms-length development companies which can bypass Government caps on building.
Greenwich Labour council are building less via that method than just about every other Labour council in London. Given how few they can build directly, the lack of homes built through an arms-length company combined means very few social homes are being built.
To demonstrate the problem, next week Greenwich’s Cabinet are looking to approve selling three council owned sites to a private developer – Pocket Living – which would provide “affordable” rents whilst aiming for a 20% profit margin.
We know there’s a huge difference between social rents and “affordable”. Claiming this sale means affordable rents are provided means little. It will be “intermediate affordable” which is one of the more expensive types of the ever-more silly “affordable” tag.
It’s another chance to provide truly low cost homes gone if the sale approved.
If the council built on this land via Meridian Homes it could use the 20% profit margin to provide more homes or reinvest at other sites, or simply build with no outright profit margin and provide more cheaper homes.
One of the core reasons for using arms-length development companies is to reinvest all income instead of trying to provide “affordable” homes via private developers who claim developments are unviable if profit margins are less than 20%.
Yet using Meridian Home Start isn’t even listed as an option for these sites. Downright bizarre. It’s not even considered despite being the best option for providing much need social homes.
The option “LA (Local Authority) New Build” is different to using Meridian Homes, as LANB is building outright and subject to government restrictions.
One argument used for this scheme that it’ll generate £100,000-£130,000 council tax. So would building through Meridian.
And then we get onto the developer – Pocket Living – who build very small flats. There’s questions over how healthy this is. The days of council’s building to spacious and healthy standards – the Parker Morris guide – seem forgotten by Greenwich Council.
Once again in Greenwich we have to ask who is benefiting from housing policy?
And through all this, developers are profiting as scheme after scheme ensures prices are pushed ever higher whilst the poorest and young see costs further beyond their reach for both private rents and buying homes.
And hardly any social homes provided for those in most need.
Whilst those stuck in private rentals don’t even have the benefit of a half-decent licensing regime.
Combine this with central government policies like “Help to Buy” which have ensured ever increasing prices (much like Greenwich’s more localised schemes) and there doesn’t seem much difference between Conservative Central Government and Greenwich Labour Council when it comes to housing policy, despite all the protestations otherwise. The facts speak louder.
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