The latest report on life and housing across the capital is a treasure trove of information revealing much about various boroughs.
One such snippet shows Greenwich borough missing housing targets by a long way, with 1,900 net completions of homes across Greenwich borough last year. While this is one of the highest totals across London and the UK, it’s just 63 per cent of the London Plan target of 2,685.
Lewisham saw a very poor 31 per cent completion compared to target level with 527 homes against a goal of 1,385.
Annual figures however can be highly volatile due to large-scale estate demolition schemes.
Looking back over previous years show Greenwich borough with a rolling three year average of 77 per cent new homes against target – which is at the bottom end across London. Lewisham was at 98% and Bexley 97%.
Greenwich’s “affordable housing” total last year was 28 per cent though the previous year actually saw a figure of -1% as more affordable homes were lost than built. Bexley saw total affordable homes at 0 % and Lewisham at 9 per cent.
Greenwich saw 131 social rented homes built which was one of the highest in London. It should be noted however this was mainly as a result of homes becoming available at estate rebuilds. Those estate rebuilds still see an overall lose of social homes when figures are analysed over a longer period.
The current London Plan is being revised and Greenwich’s target of 2,685 homes per years will rise above 3,000. It’s hard to see where these homes will come from as major sites such as Greenwich Peninsula have stalled as Knight Dragon pull back.
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Many schemes are planned at Charlton riverside – including a 1,300 scheme submitted last week – though will take some years to come to fruition.
It’s also leaving provision mainly in the hands of private developers. With house prices falling across London including in Greenwich borough, expect more plots to be placed on hold.
The private sector never provided adequate levels of housing before the financial crash despite high levels of population growth and that has continued in recent years despite numerous Government props such as Help to Buy. Profit margins rose significantly but supply still lags way behind demand.
While Central Government policies have helped developers increase margins and total profits have skyrockted, they continue to make public building extremely difficult.
However Greenwich Council’s current targets are extremely modest. Just 750 council homes starting by 2022 will do little to meet demand, and only 250 homes are planned via council developer Meridian Home Start. That’s below many other London councils also facing pressure from central government.
The authority continues to sell public sites for short term cash income whilst paying ever more to house people in expensive private lettings. One example highlighted last week was selling the former Kinara Day Centre in Plumstead. It was sold with planning use D1 attached resulting in a low sale price instead of developing the site or securing other use classes to obtain a higher sale price.
Central Government last month made building more difficult by raising interest rates for local authorities via the Public Works Loan Board by 1 per cent overnight. That move came despite Government borrowing at 400-year low rates. All the while it pays out £25 billion per annum in housing benefit.
This all conspires to ensure housing targets are unlikely to be met anytime soon. Overcrowding is the inevitable result – with knock on impact to services as measuring population growth is harder in homes converted to HMOs and bedsits than it is via new-builds. A continual degradation in living standards is underway.
Things seem to be getting worse. The number of new starts in the last financial year across Greenwich borough dropped to less than 900. That’s a third of the newly revised target. Construction data out today, albeit UK-wide, shows private house building continuing to fall.