Greenwich Council are planning to extend their housebuilding program with another 350 homes across the borough built each year – the highest level in decades.
The first round of Greenwich Builds will see 750 homes over a 3-4 year period. The council’s cabinet will rubber stamp funding next week to help the supply of a further 350 homes. Not all are certain to be via Greenwich Builds as they state: “350 new affordable homes as the first part of Greenwich Builds Phase 2 and via other affordable housing delivery vehicles”.
This could be Meridian Home Start or other providers and methods. Meridian can sell or rent some homes to cross subsidise social homes, or offer homes at around 60 per cent market rate. Higher than social rent, but lower than other “affordable” levels which can reach 80 per cent market rate.
The authority’s housing waiting list has grown to 23,000 with those in temporary or emergency housing now over 1,400. The sheer need for housing ensures even at 350 homes, it’s just about keeping up with households placed annually in expensive emergency accommodation and not managing to reduce numbers – let alone reduce the overall waiting list. This is costing the authority and taxpayer ever more funding as the council report makes clear. Greenwich are regularly needing to take cash from the general budget to cover housing costs. Neighbouring Lewisham have spent £109 million in four years in temporary housing owing to a lack of social housing when faced with a legal obligation to place households in accommodation.
Restrictions on local government and a lack of central government grant ensures scope for more building is limited. If approved, a total of £6,125,000 will be allocated to “undertake feasibility work and preparing planning applications for several site”. There is no guarantee 350 homes will be built as the report makes clear: “The first is that the HRA Capital contribution of 9.25% for Phase 1 is no longer available, as a result of the limited generation of new HRA capital funding and Members have approved the use of secured HRA capital to support the existing Housing stock.
The second is that the new Affordable Homes Programme 2021-2026 (GLA) will not allow the use of LAR and the Council may have to use the lower formula rent plus 5% rental levels. Both will significantly affect viability and therefore deliverability.
The GLA has launched its latest “Affordable Homes Programme 2021- 2026”. The Council, as with the previous programme 2016-2022, is entitled to bid and subject to this Cabinet decision, the Council will submit a detailed programme bid to support the delivery of 350 units
per annum over the period. Informal discussions are already underway with GLA officers over the format of the bid and information required.”
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