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'Most expensive' council homes go under the hammer

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Wednesday 30 October 2013 2.24pm
Karen - not sure where the 450 figure comes from, but a relatively small proportion of ex Heygate tenants opted to retain the 'right to return' - and the council expects an even smaller proportion to take it up when the time comes, as they will be well settled elsewhere.

Re the number of council homes to be built on the Heygate footprint - a lot of inaccurate numbers are bandied around, with figures for one phase often being quoted inaccurately in respect of the whole scheme, so it's worth checking exactly what component any figure relates to.

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Wednesday 30 October 2013 3.14pm
pros wrote:
PeterJohn wrote:
boroughonian wrote:
Perhaps Councillor John could enlighten us as to how many of the 11k new homes will be social housing rents??
Afterall they brag about it enough,they're entitled to know the facts,I await with interest.

All of them. That's 100%.

as these new homes will not be in council housing ghettos (and as the list for phase 2 shows), there will have to be an additional number of 'affordable housing' homes. what's the estimated figure for those and/or the total homes to be built in next 30 years?

Impossible to say with absolute certainty - but my best estimate is that Southwark as a borough will continue to see development at the rate of about 1500 new homes a year (which has been the figure over the past decade). So up to 45,000 new homes over a 30 year period - which would be consistent with our delivery of 11,000 new council homes with that period and also consistent with London's anticipated housing needs.
Wednesday 30 October 2013 3.17pm
I think pros was alluding to the fact that some of the council house developments - particularly in the centre and south of the borough - will include a range of tenures, including homes for sale, to satisfy planning policy.

Therefore the council itself will have to build more than 11,000 homes to achieve 11,000 at council rents.

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Wednesday 30 October 2013 3.28pm
Merlin Rouge wrote:
PeterJohn wrote:
...There will be 650 new affordable homes on the Heygate site and a total of 1650 affordable homes across the Elephant regeneration area - that's 600 more than were on the Heygate. So that's a net increase in affordable housing in that part of the borough...

On the Heygate there were 1000 council tenancies paying affordable rents (and 100 leaseholders).

Do you really believe or do you not know that the 'affordable' housing you are promising is way above the pocket of most local people?

The use of the description 'affordable housing' to describe any actually genuinely affordable housing is long past it's sell-by date. Continuing to use this term is just spin of a very poor and dubious situation.

How many of these 'affordable' homes will be comparable to what 1000 tenants were paying on the Heygate before they were forced elsewhere? How many have moved back to the area to pay what they were paying before?

The point is why should secure tenants and leaseholders be displaced for a high land value development just because of that value only then to find their living circumstances altered for the worse?

Agreed on the description of "affordable housing" - the government's introduction of "affordable rent" has created real confusion.

On the Heygate site at least 25% of the housing will be affordable - with 50% of that being for rent and 50% being for shared ownership. Within the properties for rent all of the 1 and 2 bed homes will be let at 50% of market rent rates (we negotiated this down from 65%) and all larger properties at council target rents. Council rents are about 35% of market rent rates, so rents for 1 and 2 bed homes will be above council rates, but less than many other housing association properties where rents have risen to up to 80% of the market rate in line with the government's affordable rent model

Tenants who have moved from the Heygate have had the opportunity to move into other council properties - paying council rents - or new housing association housing. The level of rent they pay will be dependent on their housing association and their specific tenancy agreement.

At the end of the day I genuinely believe that the regeneration of the Elephant & Castle is good news for Southwark - it will provide work and opportunities for many people.
Wednesday 30 October 2013 4.34pm
James Hatts wrote:
I think pros was alluding to the fact that some of the council house developments - particularly in the centre and south of the borough - will include a range of tenures, including homes for sale, to satisfy planning policy.
Therefore the council itself will have to build more than 11,000 homes to achieve 11,000 at council rents.

Yes - I think we would need to deliver another 3000 to be compliant with planning policy. But we would probably be looking to deliver a wider range of housing and tenures within any new homes we developed.
Wednesday 30 October 2013 10.15pm
Karen I wrote:
Turtmcfly, the clue is in your question. There are people on the council house waiting list. This was a house that could house some of them (reason one). If the council sells all its property in the 'expensive' areas it will be creating an area made up of one socio-economic group, and Cllr John said in his blurb above that he prefers a mix of housing (reason two). LBS plan to build 11,000 homes (which is fantastic) and is building up quite a sum of money, however, unless it wants to build tower blocks it needs to hang on to more of its land. At this rate, the council will end up just building another Haygate somewhere further out in Southwark.

Sorry, but the ‘clue’ in my question which was supposed to guide your answer was the word ‘good’. Let’s have a look at those ‘good’ reasons;

Reason one - this only makes sense if you believe that the money generated by the sale (and taking into account the the cost of making the place properly habitable) won't end up taking more people off the waiting list. This is not what the council are saying will happen - they are saying it will take a lot more off the waiting list. So, by all means call them on this point, and if you would attempt to explain why you think their calculations are inaccurate/dishonest. But please don't confuse the shortness of my original post with a concomitant lack of IQ. It is not a ‘keep the council house or we have nothing at all’ equation. How do you think they are building up 'quite a sum of money'? Of course you don’t think they’ll have anywhere to build anything…

Reason two - so there are 'expensive' areas in Southwark. And then there are areas where there are only council houses, with the latter inevitably ending up choc-full of sky-high middens. Who knew? Not good news for the people living in the areas that have just been released for the next batch of council houses, or the ones on the previous ones.

Reason three (although not explicitly stated as a reason by you I’m going to out on a limb) - the apparently perilously low levels of council land stock. Again, could you quantify this? As with reason one above, might be instructive if could you explain why Cllr John’s estimate of the council owning 45-60% of the land in the borough is fallacious? Or is not enough.
Thursday 31 October 2013 4.13pm
I appreciate Cllr John's explanation of 'affordable rent'.

However what he is not sharing is the surprising cost of paying for heating, hot water and electricity in these new developments which tend to be served by centralised heating/power networks (required by Southwark's own policy).

Does he know that the two bedroom 'affordable housing' in Strata pay £300 a month service charge which includes the usual things you'd expect in a building like a lift, but a substantial part of this is the heating, hot water and power, paid to ESCOs (energy service companies) who can make whatever profit they like, and a sinking fund for the complex network of pipes and pumps.

The national debate on energy prices is moot for these occupiers, because they can't switch - a building is tied into that contract for years/decades. ESCOs are an unregulated industry.

Southwark's (and the Mayor's) policy is subjecting affordable housing occupiers in the future to unnrecessarily large bills for some kind of environmental gain (itself questionable).

It might seem off topic, but it is another example of how the 11,000 as yet unseen "affordable" homes may not be very affordable.
Thursday 31 October 2013 6.31pm
I live in a block with district heating and I don't find it more expensive than paying individually. As long as it's a modern system then it's greener and similar to (and I believe ours is cheaper than) the cost of an individual system.

I appreciate that private sector run schemes may not be good value.
Thursday 31 October 2013 9.01pm
With such a restricted supply of council housing, should we be asking different questions (as it's highly unlikely that there will -ever- be enough council housing)?

Who should qualify for council/social housing?

Once you have obtained a house / flat should you be entitled to this state-funded accommodation forever, with no further testing of your economic means (apart from the new '100k' salary cap), and the right to pass your housing on?

This may be going off-topic, but with a scarce supply of a limited resource, fundamental questions need to be discussed.

Interested in your responses...?
Thursday 31 October 2013 10.41pm
Sorry to post twice in a row, but state provided and state funded are quite different. Housing departments became self financing last year and council tenants are paying for themselves. Taking out the profit margin means that housing doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive. However, a legacy of government underfunding means that places like Southwark have a challenging job to get council housing up to a decent standard with the budget they have. Of course, new built council housing will be easy to let and not expensive to manage.
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