Council aims to substantially increase housing choice
The number of new affordable homes currently being planned and built across Wandsworth has shot up to more than 2,000 according to a recent survey of residential development.
The figure, which has increased from 1,644 last year, includes all schemes currently under construction, those with planning consent and those currently working their way through the planning pipeline.
The borough has also seen a recent upturn in the number of planned affordable housing schemes to reach the construction stage. Work was underway on a total of 781 new affordable homes at the end of March this year – this marks a return to similar levels of development found before the recession.
Planning officers have also identified more than 50 underused or derelict sites in Wandsworth which could support an additional 4,000 new affordable homes on top of the 2,088 already being developed. Officers are working with the land owners to encourage the full use of these sites in meeting local housing needs.
Wandsworth is one of only a few councils to have a dedicated Home Ownership Team which makes sure all new affordable properties are offered to key groups of local residents before they become available to people from outside the borough.
Executive member for finance and corporate resources Councillor Guy Senior said: “Wandsworth has bucked the trend in the home building market and is attracting record levels of residential investment – particularity in the Nine Elms and Wandsworth Town regeneration zones. These developments will deliver thousands of badly needed affordable homes for low and middle income families.
“In Wandsworth we work hard to ensure local people reap the benefits of regeneration both in terms of new job opportunities and by making sure they are first in line for every new affordable home to come on to the market.”
The council is playing a direct role in maintaining the supply of affordable housing through the awarding winning Hidden Homes Programme. This innovative scheme turns empty or underused spaces on council estates into good quality homes for local people.
Fifty-five hidden homes are currently under construction and plans for a further 40 are being developed. Since the scheme started in 2000 a total of 170 new homes have been completed making Wandsworth one of the most prolific affordable home building councils in the country.
Its reputation as a home building specialist ensured Wandsworth was one of only three councils in London to be offered a grant from the Government’s oversubscribed 2011 homes building programme. Wandsworth was awarded a sum of £825,000 which is intended to fund the construction of an extra 26 hidden homes over the next four years.
News of the upturn in the supply of affordable homes comes just weeks after the leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia announced plans to set up a special 'deposit fund' that would offer local first time buyers and council tenants interest-free cash loans of up to £50,000 to help them get their feet on the first rung of the housing ladder.
These loans would be paid back into the fund once the property is eventually sold.
The initiative would be aimed at low and middle-income working households living in Wandsworth who may not qualify for social housing, but at the same time don't have the finances to buy a home on the open market.
Cllr Govindia said:
“We understand the deep frustration felt by local people who have been priced out of the property market. We are working hard to ensure Wandsworth residents are at the front of the queue for affordable homes and hope to increase their options further through our plans for a deposit scheme. Our aim is to substantially increase housing choice and to help more local residents achieve their dream of home ownership.”