Recently this site covered plans to build just four small homes on a sizable garage site in a built-up part of Plumstead close to a railway station and numerous bus routes.
It appeared as yet another gross underutilisation of public land in the midst of a housing crises and result sharp increase in homeless families recently seen.
Anyway, needless to say the Greenwich Planning Board passed the plans. I asked Greenwich Council Leader Dan Thorpe (Lab – Shooters Hill) about this and he appears to confirm that NIMBIES dictated such a small number of new homes.
So NIMBIES are calling the shots? What’s particularly galling here is Dan Thorpe defending building so few homes shortly after tweeting about the awful conditions some families are currently living in – with the usual reference to austerity while denying what his own authority can do – and is actually doing. These figures show the stark reality of the problem in Greenwich borough:
In effect a council garage site that could have seen three times the planned homes – and that’s a conservative number – will now see just four homes with eight other families stuck in poor quality, expensive private lettings or temporary accommodation costing the authority, and thus the taxpayer, large amounts of money.
The news comes shortly after the GLA’s latest monitoring report shows housing targets are being missed by some way in Greenwich borough with just 63 per cent of the total being built last year – and “affordable” housing averages less than 20% of the total homes built over the past three years. That’s affordable and not even social – or council – homes.
The authority has recently been housing people as far away as Medway in Kent as the number of families in need of housing has increased. In July they sought to buy more market homes outside London. That council report revealed that costs have increased from £4 million a year in 2014/15 to £13.1 million last year and 50 people are now housed in Medway. Last month another £2.6 million spend on housing due to homelessness was revealed.
Aside from the numbers there;s the human aspect. One parent with children has been complaining of living in an infested house in Medway after being placed there by Greenwich Council, with the individual stating they are on the verge of a breakdown.
It’s those very people being deprived a secure and safe home by failing to build on existing land alongside selling various plots of public land and buildings to fund the Creative District in Woolwich, or selling public buildings off cheaply such as the Kinara Centre in Plumstead.
The defence for this was that is was an old building. That makes no odds. The buyers will inevitably apply for change of use and be quids in. And even if income funds a new library, gaining greater income would fund a library and additional revenue for housing. I know this is incredibly obvious but Greenwich Council fail to recognize it.
Back to the Plumstead site, and to listen to those already lucky enough to be in secure and affordable council homes in the area rather than those in dire need is quite something for a Labour council. Is this how it will be going forward? We’ve long seen bungalows and low-rise buildings even near Zone 2 stations such as Elverson Road in the borough.
Just this week when one member of the public asked a Greenwich Labour cllr on social media why the authority are building such low rise homes in inner London (at another site this time) they were blocked. I’ve seen a screenshot of the discussion and a simple question was enough to get that person shut out.
The Conservative Government makes it extremely hard for councils to build new homes, but when local authorities in London then adopt policies that further increase hardship then just what hope for those families in need?
With actions like this and Tory candidate to be Eltham MP Louie French agreeing to sell park land for private homes without a single affordable home, let alone council housing, what hope for many?
And all this continues to cost local taxpayers vast sums, as housing families in B&Bs or temporary housing can costs hundreds of pounds per night. If NIMBIES are calling the shots we can expect a trickle of homes, many more families in dire need and taxpayers costs rising ever higher.