Tag Archives: social housing

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

section 106.jpg

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.

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Stop another social housing sell off! Join our twitter storm this Friday.

This Friday, housing associations will vote on whether to go ahead with selling off their/our social housing under an extended Right to Buy. Only, the decision has been made already. Either housing associations vote YES and allow their social housing stock to be sold off, or the government plans to push this Right to Buy of Housing Association homes through Parliament.

Thatcher’s original Right to Buy decimated social housing, contributing to the huge housing crisis we now face. There is massive demand for quality, secure, social housing but housing associations and the government are looking to sell-off the little we have left.

As a group of homeless people, badly and precariously housed people, and social housing tenants, this proposed sell-off affects us all. We totally oppose any sell-off of social housing. Many of us are in desperate need of quality, secure, social housing in our communities.

As part of these plans, the discount given to tenants to buy their housing association home will be paid for by the sell-off of COUNCIL HOUSING. We expect that council housing in Lambeth and Southwark (areas that now have become incredibly valuable) will be under threat for selling off to pay for discounts to help with the sell-off of housing association homes. This means more social cleansing as council homes in high value areas will be lost – meaning poor people can no longer live here.

We probably can’t stop the housing associations voting YES this Friday, lots of them have made their minds up already – but we will continue to organise, take action, and make our voices heard in our communities to make the sell-off as difficult as possible.

Twitter storm this Friday anyone? Are you a social housing tenant or someone in housing need? Angry at social cleansing and profiteering private landlords? Why not let your council and the housing associations know your opposition to the Housing Association Right to Buy this Friday as the Housing Associations go to vote. You can contact them on social media, and be sure to include us @housingactionsl.

Guinness Partnership – stop making people homeless! Local, social housing for all residents of the Guinness Trust estate

Protest with us on Friday 4th July, 3.30pm meeting at the front of Guinness Trust estate, Loughborough Park, SW9 8NL.

Residents of the Guinness Trust estate, Loughborough Park, are campaigning against so-called ‘social landlord’, Guinness Partnership, who have been making tenants on Assured Shorthold Tenancies (insecure tenancies) homeless as part of the ‘regeneration’ of the estate. Guiness Partnership will in total have made 150 households homeless by the end of the ‘regeneration’. Those that qualify for ‘help’ from Lambeth council face months of exile as Lambeth house hundreds outside the borough while they process their claim for homelessness.

Together, Guinness Trust estate residents, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, and Lambeth Housing Activists are calling on Guinness Partnership to provide local, social housing for all residents faced with eviction and homelessness. We welcome you to get involved too! Why not contact Guinness Partnership expressing your concern at a ‘social landlord’ making people homeless, there contact details are here and you can tweet them here.

Keep your eyes on our blog for more news and updates, and get in contact if you’d like to get involved: haslemail[at]gmail.com

Guinness Trust estate is one of many estates across London being subjected to ‘regeneration’. Regeneration for who, though? For many residents and communities, this means eviction, homelessness, displacement, and the loss of desperately needed social housing. This quality article on the Brixton Blog includes residents of the Guinness Trust describing the impact of eviction on their lives. One person describes how they were admitted to hospital for four weeks after being evicted by Guinness Partnership. The residents describe how the regeneration is a process of social and ethnic cleansing.

Residents on the estate tried to organise together back in 2010 to have a say in the regeneration, but their attempts were frustrated by the Guinness Partnership who refused to acknowledge their tenants group and allow them use of the community centre. At one of the protests, the residents were threatened by the police and this also contributed to the end of the campaign. ‘9 Stories in Brixton’, a film made by the residents can be seen below. But the residents haven’t given up on their campaign, it’s starting up again.

 

A Guinness Trust AST resident has written to Lambeth council leader Lib Peck asking for her support for the rehousing of Guinness Trust AST residents by Guinness Parternship. Read her letter below
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Esther and Her Family Rehoused!

We’re really happy to hear that Esther and her family are being rehoused by Metropolitan housing association in their local area. Esther, ourselves, and Lambeth Housing Activists confronted Metropolitan last week about making the family homeless and demanded that they fulfil their duties as a so-called ‘social landlord’ and rehouse the family locally. By their deadline of Friday, Metropolitan had been in contact with Esther to offer her a choice two flats in the local area. Collective action works! A massive thanks to everyone who supported Esther. Let’s keep on organising together for quality, secure, truly affordable homes for everyone!

We met Esther when she was at Lambeth housing office on Brixton hill being told her and her family would have to live in temporary accommodation across London in Hackney away from their school, work, and community. HASL members accompanied Esther in the housing office to challenge them about this completely inappropriate accommodation. There we were told that homeless people and families are being sent to temporary accommodation in Enfield, Dagenham, and Margate. Others on the Clapham Park estate are facing eviction by Metropolitan as part of their regeneration scheme – a similar story is happening on other estates across Southwark and Lambeth.

Join us at our regular meetings to discuss what we can do together about these issues and any other housing or welfare issues you’d like to take action on. Our next meeting is this Thursday 10th at 12pm at Southwyck Community Hall on the Moorlands estate off Moorlands road. We will be leafletting at Olive Morris House just up from Lambeth town hall on Brixton hill beforehand from 10am if you’d like to join us.