Category Archives: Uncategorized

Council homes and affordable cinema for all – our plan for Southwark

Southwark council are conducting a ‘public consultation’ on their New Southwark Plan, a draft plan of future developments in the borough. This public consultation closes on Friday 28th April. Southwark council’s plans for our borough look pretty huge and it’s hard to get your head around, especially with the fast approaching deadline, and if like many people in the borough lots of your time is spent trying to house yourself, support others and generally just survive. Despite the ‘public consultation’, it’s likely that you haven’t had your ideas concerning your neighborhood and borough listened to.

The threat to the PeckhamPlex cinema, one of the few affordable cinemas left in London, has caught the local headlines. There’s a template letter here calling for the current plans for the PeckhamPlex to be put on hold. And other community and public spaces are under threat too –such as the Peckham Arch in front of Peckham library (petition to save it here) and grassy plots in Peckham.

After Southwark’s terrible reputation for destroying council housing and doing terrible deals with developers (just look at the Heygate estate and the Aylesbury estate), the council are promising lots of new homes as part of the Southwark Plan. But their mantra of ‘homes, homes, homes’ is deceptive. Southwark desperately needs council homes, particularly for those with high housing need on the housing register, not ‘affordable’ homes or private rented homes. And homes should not come at the cost of community spaces.

Think that ‘regeneration’ shouldn’t look like this? Struggling or don’t want to fill in their in inaccessible and confusing consultation? Concerned about rent rises, poor housing and gentrification we’re already experiencing in our communities? Don’t worry, together we can make sure that there are plenty more ways to highlight and assert the needs of our communities and neighborhoods – council housing, community spaces, and affordable cinema for all!

The New Southwark Plan consultation can be viewed and responded to online here. Although it looks like it’s only available in English – so many of Southwark’s residents who do not have English as a first language, or literacy, or internet access are already excluded. Whether you fill it out or not, get involved in HASL to organise collective action on housing and poverty issues in our communities.

Forcing homeless families out of London – our report on London councils ending their homeless duties with private rented accommodation

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Using Freedom Of Information requests sent to London councils, we looked at how hundreds of homeless households are being forced out of their home communities and out of London into private rented housing or else facing destitution. You can read our full report HASL report on private sector discharge -final

The Guardian has covered the research here

We wrote about our findings for Novara Media here

HASL host the LCAP general meeting – report

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The London Coalition Against Poverty is 10 years old this year. Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth also celebrates it’s 4th birthday this April. As we noted and celebrated in the recent LCAP general meeting, as groups of people directly affected by housing and other poverty issues, it’s an awesome achievement to be running for these lengths of time. Another theme of the meeting was the many success our groups have achieved recently. Despite compiling a long list of the problems we face – including issues relating to organising our groups, common housing problems we face, as well as much bigger issues and policies that affect and will affect us – our list of successes was actually longer.

Our most recent LCAP general meeting was hosted by HASL on Saturday 1st April. These general meetings bring together other groups in the coalition and other sister groups from across London who organise practical solidarity, mutual support and collective action. As well as the regular LCAP housing groups from across London, we were joined by Housing Action Greenwich and Lewisham, North East London Migrant Action, and Latin American Women’s Aid. The LCAP general meetings (which are supposed to happen every three months or so) are really valuable chances for our local groups to meet together to share tactics, ideas, problems, and experiences, as well as to discuss how we can co-ordinate and link up better between our groups.

For many groups in the coalition, local group meetings have been very busy, so it can be hard to step back and reflect on how we are doing things, how we can do things better, and how we get to the root causes of the problems affecting our communities. The LCAP general meetings provide a good space for this to happen and where we can discuss answers to the problems and questions we have together. As with our local group meetings, where we raise housing problems we are facing and try to deal with them collectively, LCAP meetings help us deal with group organising and wider issues collectively, sharing years of experience and giving you much needed energy and strength.

Many of our members have children and children’s activities at all of our meetings is something we are trying hard to improve (to one day look something like this!). For this LCAP meeting we had three adults who helped facilitate children’s activities, including the creation of a beautiful ‘homes not borders’ banner. The children themselves also provided a helpful reminder towards the end of the meeting that it was time to finish and have cake; they did this by running around us in a circle with increasing ferocity.

During the meeting we split into smaller groups to focus on a topic or issue that we wanted to work on and to make it easier for people to contribute to the discussion. We looked at internal group issues: how to increase membership and build a group up and how to share out work within our groups. For wider issues we looked at: housing and migrant rights, private landlords, and the introduction of 5 year council tenancies as part of the Housing and Planning Act. We made sure our discussions were action point focussed so that we could return as a big group with some concrete steps.

Our small discussion groups generated lots of good ideas and plans that we’ll be working on putting into action. The meeting also gave us energy for building stronger links between each other and organising more together. Sometimes north London can feel very far away, but it was so valuable and fun talking with our friends from Haringey and Hackney. Meeting others from across London organising in similar ways reminded us that we’re much bigger than we thought we were.

www.lcap.org.uk

 

Southwark council we need action on overcrowding, not blame!

 

5 HASL families who are statutorily overcrowded have faced huge delays and refusals by Southwark council to give them the priority on the council waiting list that they qualify for.

Southwark council have been aware of one family’s case since May 2016 and for the other 4 families, since July 2016, however, the families are still stuck in the severely overcrowded and unsuitable housing. The parents are particularly worried about the impact on their children of these overcrowded and unsuitable housing conditions.

The council’s allocations policy is clear enough – households who are statutorily overcrowded who have not caused the overcrowding by a ‘deliberate act’ qualify for priority on the housing register. However the council have insisted the families caused the overcrowding deliberately, despite being given evidence from the families that this is not the case. The families have been deeply hurt and insulted by the idea that they caused these situations on purpose. The council have also acted very slowly on dealing with these families urgent cases, with emails not being replied to for months.

Please email Southwark’s councillor for housing Stephanie Cryan stephanie.cryan[at]southwark.gov.uk  to express your support for these families and concern at the treatment they have faced from Southwark council (cc us in too on haslemail[at]gmail.com!). Please demand that they are given the band 1 priority that they qualify for and that victims of the housing crisis are not blamed for this crisis.

These families have already endured homelessness and have endured terrible, overcrowded housing conditions for years.

Why is the council insisting that the families caused the overcrowding deliberately when we’ve provided enough proof to show this is not the case? No one would choose these living conditions!

Why is the council blaming these families instead of supporting them?

Why will Southwark council not follow their own allocations policy?

These families have done everything they can to improve their living conditions, it’s up to Southwark to do their part.

Homelessness Charities & Local Authorities: Complicit in Detention/Deportation of Rough Sleeping EU Nationals

Three of London’s largest homelessness charities (St. Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live – formerly known as Crime Reduction Initiative), Greater London Authority (GLA), local borough councils, and the Mayor of London are collaborating with the Home Office to have EU (European Union) rough sleepers detained without charge and removed to their country of origin purely on the basis that they are rough sleeping.

Since November 2015 the Home Office has considered rough sleeping an “abuse’’ (or, more recently, a ‘‘misuse’’) of EU Treaty right to freedom of movement. This change of policy has effectively criminalised EU nationals who are sleeping rough, making them liable to be served with removal papers or taken to detention centres and deported.
Local authority commissioned outreach teams from St. Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live patrol alongside Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) teams and share the locations of European nationals sleeping rough, circumventing the requirement that rough sleepers consent to their personal information being shared.

Local authority-commissioned outreach teams from St. Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live patrol alongside Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) teams and share the locations of European nationals sleeping rough, circumventing the requirement that rough sleepers consent to their personal information being shared.

Homelessness is not a crime!

NELMA (North East London Migrant Action) and HASL (Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth) are asking for your help to call on St Mungo’s, Thames Reach, and Change, Grow, Live to immediately stop collaborating with ICE in the detention and removal of EU nationals rough sleeping.

We want to hold these charities to account for their participation in the racist criminalisation of homelessness. We’re hoping that if we can demonstrate just how many of us disagree with what St Mungo’s, Thames Reach, and Change, Grow, Live are doing, we can convince them that they need to stop supporting this divisive new Home Office policy and instead advocate on behalf of rough sleepers against the government’s attack on EU nationals.

Show solidarity with vulnerable migrants in our communities!

Join us on Wednesday 8th March in creating a Twitter and email storm between 10am-12pm (but feel free to start before and continue after!). We’re asking people to Tweet

We’re using the hashtags #CutTheCollaboration and #StopTheScandal to help keep track of them. We’ve included some sample tweets below which will easily allow you to express your anger:

We’ve also made a series of graphics (see below) to help the storm get more attention!

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Please also help us put pressure on local councils to stop collaborating with ICE in the detention and deportation of rough sleeping EU nationals. 

We know that the following local authorities are complicit in this racist attack on rough sleepers:

See FOIs submitted by HASL for more information.

We’d also like people to email St Mungo’s, Change, Grow, Live, and Thamesreach demanding answers. You can reach them at:

St Mungo’s: howard.sinclair@mungos.org, BoardofStMungos@mungosbroadway.org.ukpetra.salva@mungos.org

CGL: hilary.jackson@cgl.org.uk, david.biddle@cgl.org.ukcgl@theproffice.com

Thamesreach: jeremy.swain@thamesreach.org.ukkristian.draper@thamesreach.org.uk

We’d also invite people to cc us in to your emails using nelondonmigrantaction@gmail.com. We’ve drafted a template email at the end of this blogpost that you can send . Please feel free to amend or adjust as suits you:

To: BoardofStMungos@mungosbroadway.org.uk, nelondonmigrantaction@gmail.com

Subject: Why are you collaborating with ICE in the detention and deportation of rough sleeping EU nationals?

Dear X

I am shocked to learn that a homeless charity such as yours is actively working with the Home Office’s Immigration and Enforcement (ICE) teams to facilitate the detention and removal of vulnerable EEA Nationals.

Homeless charities like yours should be working to support those sleeping rough – assisting them to find stable and safe accommodation, and applying pressure on government and local councils to provide more suitable and affordable housing – instead of colluding in the forced removal of EEA Nationals who are rough sleeping.  Such forced removal does not help those who are sleeping rough, but merely shifts them to do the same but in a different place.  Moreover, deporting people to countries like Poland when there are sub-zero temperatures is nothing short of murderous.As you are aware, homelessness is not a crime, nor is it a choice. We are experiencing a continued housing crisis, which is not the fault of vulnerable people.

 The recent Home Office policy of administrative removal for EEA Nationals who are rough sleeping is incredibly divisive. It ignores the many situations in which people find themselves homeless, through relationship breakdown, as a result of bereavement, and because of a precarious housing and labour market.

This is what makes your complicity in working in partnership with ICE teams and local authorities – colluding with them during enforcement operations, on patrols, and in sharing information about rough sleepers with them – even more insidious.

It is deeply troubling and shouldn’t be happening.

You must end your complicity in the detention and removal of EEA nationals, and I, like many others, are expecting a public comment on this from you, as well as a demonstrable guarantee and commitment that you will no longer collaborate with immigration authorities.

Yours Sincerely,

XX

HASL’s 2016

The winter holidays are always a nice time of the year to look back at what we’ve been up to and what we’ve achieved together. Of course, whilst it’s important to celebrate our wins, sometimes there is not always a quick and easy solution to our housing problems, or to the wider and growing housing crisis we face. Direct action and practical solidarity don’t always succeed the first time (or the second or third!), so some of our members are still struggling for justice and the good housing they need. Each day, the housing crisis in London feels like it’s intensifying. But we know that we’re stronger by being part of the group and supporting each other. We’ll use this time to get some rest and come back with more energy in 2017 – we hope you’ll join us!

These wins and activities only happened with the collective efforts of our members and supporters. Organising together and supporting each other, we’ve seen directly how we can fight and get better housing and challenge the policies, politicians and practices that try to deny us the quality, secure, homes we all need. Thanks to everyone who has been involved in HASL and helped us grow!

As well as strong support from members and supporters of HASL, throughout the year we have built links and worked in solidarity with other groups across London. Thanks so much to our mates and sister groups – the London Coalition Against Poverty, English for Action, North East London Migrant Action, Espacio Mama, Queen Mob Collective, Anti-Raids Network, London Campaign Against Police and State Violence, South East London Sisters Uncut and more.

January

Hundreds of HASL members and supporters supported a local squatted school (which had been unused for a number of years) in Camberwell emailing the headmaster and asking why he was making people homeless from the disused building. The headmaster was certainly taken about by the strong local response challenging homelessness and evictions, although on this occasion it was not enough to prevent the eviction.

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February

Action A mass visit to Lambeth council’s housing office to hold them to account over gatekeeping and poor treatment of our member Mary Luz. Mary Luz and her family would have been in secure council housing by now if the council hadn’t mistreated and gatekept her.

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Skillshare/workshop In February, HASL, English for Action and Haringey Housing Action Group joined the newly formed North East London Migrant Action to run a workshop looking at section 17 migrant housing and buddy training. The training day was really well attended and we learnt so much together about the legal side of section 17 housing and how to buddy each other to challenge the aggressive gatekeeping we face when trying to access housing help. It was really useful to skill share buddying tactics and problems and it’s great to see NELMA’s project developing to provide practical support for migrants at section 17 assessments. We’ll share our resources and notes soon.

March

Action With our friends London Coalition Against Poverty, we joined the National March Against the Housing Bill

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Lunch club in Brixton with crepe making

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April

Action We organise an even bigger and louder action in support of Mary Luz outside Olive Morris House. We try to deliver a cardboard house to the Leader of Lambeth council but we’re pushed out by security. Lambeth make a concession by increasing Mary Luz’s banding on the housing waiting list to band B but the council have still not apologised for the appalling treatment and gatekeeping Mary Luz was subjected to.

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Lunch club We celebrate our 3rd birthday with lots of our sister groups and delicious food and cake.

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May

Win! Together with South East London Sisters Uncut, we organised a twitter storm in support of our member – a domestic violence survivor – who was facing eviction from temporary housing provided by Southwark council. Hundred of tweets in support forced councillor for housing Richard Livingstone to tweet a public apology and a full homeless duty was accepted. Politics.co.uk covered the case here.

Win! A private tenant and HASL member, with the help of a good housing lawyer, takes his landlord to court and successfully defeats the possession order!

Skillshare/workshop We’ve been running a number of housing rights workshops with English for Action classes in south London combining ESOL teaching with discussing the housing crisis and housing rights and action.

Lunch club Hanging out with our sister group Haringey Housing Action Group at their summer picnic. The weather was a bit chilly but HHAG members prepared a feast!

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June

Solidarity/support Espacio Mama (a local mums group based in Camberwell) joined our regular meeting at Papa’s cafe making it our biggest ever meeting. We couldn’t all fit in the room!

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Win! English for Action support one of their students who is living in dangerous and unsuitable temporary accommodation provided by Southwark council. EFA students wrote letters to Southwark council leader Peter John and sent tweets about the situation. These actions forced the council to act and they provided Kenza with suitable temporary accommodation.

Campaigning We launched our ‘pledge to end gatekeeping’ – targeted at Southwark council, but also relevant to all London local authorities. We invite local community groups and other anti-poverty campaigns to sign it to show their support.

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July

Skillshare/workshop We ran a housing rights workshop at South East London Sisters Uncut occupied space in Peckham. We discussed housing rights and homelessness particularly in relation to survivors of domestic violence.

Lunch club Summer picnic in Burgess park

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August

Win! Despite it being summer holidays, we had a busy meeting at Papa’s cafe where we celebrated one of our members whose family had just moved in to their new council home which they got with the support of HASL!

Action A number of our members joined hundreds of people outside Byron Burgers to protest their role in working with the Home Office to deport Byron staff. Lots of our members are migrants and we believe everyone has the right to live in our communities free from the threat of detention and deportation.

September

HASL meet with senior Southwark housing staff. We were really proud of all our badass HASL members who met with a number of Southwark senior housing officers to talk about the many issues we face accessing housing assistance. Our group was mostly women, many of whom don’t have English as a first language, confronting the four male Southwark staff. Our 18 year old member spoke about how his severely overcrowded housing affects his ability to study and lead an ordinary life of a teenager. Our member who has faced 33 years of domestic abuse was really brave and spoke about her situation of Southwark refusing her a homeless duty.

We emailed Lambeth councillor for housing Matthew Bennett about some of the serious gatekeeping and mistreatment of homeless people at the housing office, and requested that he meet us to resolve these issues. We’re still waiting for him to reply to our email…

October

Support / solidarity Our friends who were involved in resisting an immigration raid in East Street in June 2015 were on trial this month for ‘violent disorder’ for their actions after a violent police charge. We wrote a blog in support and attended the court over the four week trial.  Two people were found not guilty but a third had a hung jury with a re-trial expected in April 2017.

Skillshare/workshop Our friends Queen Mob Collective ran a print workshop with our group teaching us how to screen print and lino cut awesome housing graphics at DIY Space for London.

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Action Halloween action at Southwark town hall demanding no more house of horrors

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Blogs Our member, a survivor of domestic violence who is homeless (living in a refuge counts you as homeless as this is not ‘settled accommodation’) writes about the difficulties she has faced trying to access the secure, council housing she needs.

November

Our members joined South East London Sisters Uncut for their meeting with Southwark council to makes demands on the treatment of domestic violence survivors trying to access housing help. One of our members, who is a survivor of domestic violence, bravely explained the shameful situation the council had left her in and demanded that the council take action to resolve it.

Skillshare/workshop HASL members participated in a workshop organised by the Solidarity Federation discussing direct action.

December

Win! Southwark council accept a full homeless duty to our member. It took 7 months of determination and effort for this win with the support of our group. It should never have taken 7 months for Southwark to provide this most basic support for our member. The last 7 months have been incredibly stressful and hard for her as she faced negative decisions from the council whilst her refuge served her notice. But together, public pressure made Southwark reverse their original decision that she was not vulnerable enough to qualify for a homeless duty. We’re some way away from the secure social housing she needs, and there are constantly new policies to make it even harder for us to access. But it’s important to celebrate this win.

Her lawyer emailed her to congratulate her on winning her case – here he recognised the incredible effort that our member and her supporters went to to achieve this decision!

Media Some of our member talked with Dissident Island radio show about organising in HASL. 

Action 5 HASL families who are living in severely overcrowded housing, confront councillors about their cases in the cabinet meeting. Southwark council are failing to follow their own housing allocations policy and give these families the priority for social housing that they need and are entitled to.

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Lunch club Our end of year celebration described by young HASL members as ‘the best party ever’!

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From the 35% Campaign: Southwark’s lost section 106 social housing

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Last week, great research conducted by 35% campaign revealed how Southwark council have failed to make sure that developers stick to their promises and provide the agreed amount of social housing in new developments.

In Southwark, there are around 25,000 people on the housing waiting list – many who are homeless or in poor quality accommodation and are desperately in need of secure, quality council homes (these statistics are from 2012, since this year, local councils have been desperately trying to cut their waiting lists so that demand for social housing looks less).

When we visited Southwark council last week in support of 5 HASL families who live in severely overcrowded private rented housing – the council made excuses that they don’t have enough council housing. Instead of making excuses, the council must treat homeless households and others in housing need with more respect by actually making sure developers deliver the social housing that we desperately need.

We’re not at all surprised that Southwark council haven’t bothered to look after social housing for their residents (just look at the Heygate and Aylesbury estates!) – we have experienced first hand their disrespect for homeless households and others in housing need. But we will hold them to account for their actions and fight together for the quality homes we all need and deserve!

Cross posted from 35% campaign

Southwark’s lost section 106 social housing

Ombudsman finds Council doesn’t know how much social housing it’s getting from developers

Posted on December 12, 2016

The Local Government Ombudsman has issued the damning judgement that Southwark Council has no procedure to ensure that social rented housing approved by the Council’s planning committee is actually being delivered. The Ombudsman further found that without a monitoring procedure ‘it is hard to know ..how many social housing units…developers [have] delivered’. Or indeed, how many remain social housing units.’

The Ombudsman’s decision came after the 35% Campaign referred its complaint that planning consents were being breached, listing 43 developments where we thought the social rented housing may not have been delivered as required.

In her decision notice, the Ombudsman said:

“In response to my enquiries the Council says it is taking legal action in response to several of the breaches identified by Mr X. It also accepts it did not have a systematic supervision procedure to check compliance. It relied on developers’ voluntary compliance.” (para. 12)

She concludes that ‘the Council accepts that fault’ and has agreed to roll out ‘a borough-wide annual audit to ensure compliance’, nonetheless noting that ‘until that audit is complete it is hard to know how many social housing units all section 106 agreements called for and how many developers delivered. Or indeed, how many remain social housing units.’ (para 20)

Despite the Ombudsman’s decision and Southwark’s own admission that it had no monitoring procedure in place, no further action is proposed in any of the other instances submitted – aside from the two cases subject to legal action (the Jam Factory and Signal Tower). This leaves unresolved issues about the levels of rent being charged for purportedly social rented properties.

Background

Our complaint was prompted after we discovered that the Richard Rogers Neo Banksidedevelopment had provided 32 social rented homes fewer than the number agreed at planning committee.

Following this we discovered that 44 social rented units had been lost from the Bermondsey Spa regeneration and had instead been switched to affordable rent, at 62% market rent, by housing provider Notting Hill Housing Trust (NHHT).

Local news coverage of the story: 21/05/15; 01/10/15; 11/02/16

The lost Bermondsey Spa homes were raised at the Aylesbury estate CPO inquiry in May 2015. The Council assured the inquiry that it had robust procedures in place and that it monitored compliance of S106 affordable housing provision every 12-18 months. This was evidently not true, but was asserted to show that NHHT could be trusted to deliver social rented housing in the Aylesbury regeneration.

Inquiry document 27 – evidence submitted by the Council to the CPO public inquiry, 12/05/2015

Southwark struck a deal with NHHT to reprovide the 44 lost social rented units on another site – Manor Place depot, but this deal double counted the social rented units and in any event the development is still not under construction.

Social rent is not affordable rent

Social rent is calculated by using a legal formula, based primarily on average local earnings; in Southwark social rent currently equates to between 19-25% market rate and this percentage falls as market rents rise.

Our list of suspect developments shows many where the level of rent identifies them as affordable rent, not social rent. The list was compliled by cross-checking planning committee reports, section 106 agreements, Land Registry information, the GLA affordable housing outturn dataset and CORE lettings data.

Amongst the sites we’ve looked at where the ‘social rent’ is higher than it should be, are the following;

Colorama buildings

This redevelopment of the former Colorama film processing warehouse in SE1 was completed in April 2016 and should have provided a total of 19 social rented habitable rooms, about 8 units, according to the planning report.

However, GLA affordable housing outturn data, shows that the developer has provided affordable rent, not social rent. These range up to 59% market rent, giving rent levels of £215pw (excl. service charge) for a 1-bed flat, over twice the current average social rent in Southwark (£100 pw).

143-149 Rye Ln/1-15 B’mouth Rd SE15 4ST (L&Q)

Southwark’s planning committee report (06/AP/0995) approved 61 new homes of which 7 should have been social rent, but the GLA dataset shows that these have been delivered by London & Quadrant as affordable rent of between 74% and 78% market rent.

32 Crosby Row SE1 3PT (Family Mosaic)

Southwark’s planning committee report (11/AP/0140) approved the demolition of St Hugh’s church on Crosby Row and the construction of 22 new homes, which should have included 5 social rented units. But the GLA dataset shows that these have been delivered by Family Mosaic as affordable rent at up to 57% of market rent.

177-184 Grange Road, Bermondsey (Linden Homes Ltd)

The planning committee report (11/AP/1390) for this development approved 38 new homes, of which 9 were supposed to be social rented units. The GLA data shows that these have been delivered by Leicester Housing Association as affordable rent of up to 52% market rent.

34-42 Grange Road, Bermondsey (Bellway Homes)

Southwark’s planning committee report (11/AP/3251) approved 41 new homes of which 8 should have been social rented, but the GLA dataset shows that these have been delivered by Leicester Housing Association at affordable rent of up to 52% market rent.

Royal Road, Kennington SE17 3DA (Affinity Sutton)

This development was built on the site of a former old people’s home. The site was designated as one of the replacement housing sites for decanted Heygate tenants and sold by the Council, at cost, to Affinity Sutton housing association. Notwithstanding this, the new development wasn’t completed until 5 years after the Heygate was demolished and the government’s CORE lettings database is showing only 45 units let at social rents at this site, while 76 is the number required by the planning consent and correspondingsection 106 agreement.

430 Old Kent Road SE1 5AG – (Family Mosaic)

This is one of the Neo-Bankside off-site affordable housing sites, which according to Southwark’s planning committee report (11/AP/0138) approved 22 social rented units, but the GLA dataset shows that these have been delivered at affordable rents of up to 49% market rent.

Silwood estate regeneration Site 4B (Notting Hill HT)

This is yet another Notting Hill Housing Trust redevelopment of a council estate. It was supposed to provide 22 social rented homes as part of its redevelopment of the Silwood estate involving the demolition of 57 council homes and construction of 127 new homes. The definition of social rented in the section 106 agreement is worded as affordable rent and the CORE lettings data system shows that only 19 units have been let at social rent levels.

Conclusion

Southwark has confessed that up until now it has not ensured that social rented housing has been delivered in accordance with planning approvals, but instead relied on‘voluntary compliance’. Southwark promises an annual public audit as a remedy, with some unspecified ‘further investigation to ensure accuracy’ and has budgeted £60,000 for this. Developers and, unfortunately, housing associations have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted, so we doubt that this will be enough.

Southwark charges developers a 2% administration fee on the sum total of financial S106 contributions, including affordable housing. The table below shows this amounts to be a considerable sum each year and far more of it should be invested to ensure that the affordable housing conditions are properly monitored and enforced.

Extract from the Council’s most recent S106 contributions report

We also need an audit not just ‘going forward’ but also one looking back, an historical audit of all relevant planning applications for an least the past 10 years, to retreive the social housing that Southwark Council has lost through being let at higher than social rents. Only when Southwark has done this will we believe that it is ‘leading the fight for social housing’ as it claims and is not the developers’ free-for-all it has been labelled.