Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Approving 105 truly affordable new homes & thanking our officers for their hard work

Yesterday evening I sat on the Newham Council Local Planning Committee, which approved the building of 141 homes including 105 at London Affordable Rents (LAR). This is 74% of the total approvals at LAR. Also they were mostly family sized units with disabled access.

6 of the schemes were Newham Council applications to build 100% London affordable rents,changing our disused garage sites and offices into quality homes (see design bottom right of photo collage). These schemes are now planning compliant and ready to start. Last planning committee we approved similar schemes.

At the end of the meeting, the Chair of Local Planning Committee thanked our Chief Planning director, Amanda Reid and Development manager, James Coulstock, who are moving on to new jobs,  for all their hard work. Newham Council planning team is now one of the top performing (if not - the top) local authority planing departments in the country.

We are still on target to fulfil Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and Newham Labour Group, manifesto commitment to build at least 1000 Council homes at social rents in 4 years. We will build more homes in 4 years at real social rents than in the previous 50 years.

UPDATE: Face book post by Cllr Daniel Blaney (1st person ever to be really excited by my blog)

Really excited to read John Gray's blog about Newham Council's housing delivery programme getting through a necessary stage of the planning process last night. I went to the relevant committee's webpage (I don't sit on that committee), and on a rough count we - Newham Council - are building, just from those applications last night, around 35 three-bedroom homes, plus around 7 four-bedroom homes at London Affordable Rent levels. There are also dozens of two bed and one bed London Affordable Rent homes granted planning permission last night as part of the council's housing delivery plan. These will all be allocated to people in need from the Council's housing waiting list.

"London Affordable Rent" does attract some cynicism as a term because there are so many terms out there to mask a subsidies which don't create genuine affordable housing. So it is unfortunate the government provided funding for social housing to the GLA on the condition that it would not be used in a way that is labelled and trusted as social housing. 

I'm satisfied having spent a lot of time looking at it, that London Affordable Rent is genuinely affordable rent, and is the only way deliver substantial levels of de facto social housing in the current context. The difference between LAR and social rent is small but technically there for 1 and 2 two beds, but the difference totally disappears at 3 and 4 beds so it is particularly delightful the council is delivering these new homes which are unarguably at social rent levels.

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