38 New Hidden Homes To Celebrate 10 Years

Anniversary launch of more affordable homes

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Wandsworth Council’s pioneering Hidden Homes initiative is celebrating its tenth anniversary later this month with the unveiling of another 38 new homes for low income families.

The 38 new affordable homes will be officially unveiled on Battersea’s Rollo estate following a £7.5m housing investment programme.

They bring the total number of Hidden Homes built by Wandsworth Council over the past decade to 238. These have been allocated to local families in housing need for rent and also to first time buyers living in the borough on a shared ownership basis.

The new homes, which were jointly funded by the council and the Homes and Communities Agency, include a mix of two, three and four-bedroom family homes, some of which are suitable for people with disabilities.

Since it was launched in November 2002, the Hidden Homes scheme has transformed vacant and disused spaces on housing estates like laundry rooms, storage areas and defunct boiler rooms into 238 modern and attractive dwellings. It has successfully brought back into use redundant spaces on housing estates that are either eyesores or could otherwise become havens for anti-social behaviour.

The cost of building these new homes has also represented a good value deal for taxpayers because the council already owns the land - so there is no expensive land purchase involved.

The borough is currently is experiencing a major house building boom with strong levels of private sector investment and a big increase in the number of affordable homes being constructed.

Comparable figures show that last year there was a significant improvement in housing delivery at all stages of the process, with sharp increases in the number of homes completed, building projects that started up and also planning permissions for new homes.

The year saw a 103 per cent increase in the number of homes that builders completed and a 41 per cent rise in the number of start-up projects, compared to the year before. In total 979 dwellings were finished in the 12 month period ending March 2012 with work starting on another 2,160. This is the highest level for a decade.

Planning permission was granted for the construction of another 10,498 homes, bringing the total number in the development pipeline to 17,556.

As well as providing new homes for Londoners, especially those on low incomes, this buoyant corner of the construction sector has created many jobs and provided a much needed boost to the wider economy.

Of the 979 homes built in Wandsworth last year, 27 per cent were affordable. Most were built by private sector developers, but others were provided by housing associations and also under the Hidden Homes scheme.

Over the next three years there could be as many as 3,118 new affordable units built in Wandsworth. By the end of the current financial year, it is anticipated that work will have begun on 455 of these homes and 349 will be ready for people to move into. Of these, 57 per cent will be available for rent and 43 per cent for shared ownership or intermediate rented housing.

Housebuilding will also provide the key to the regeneration of the Nine Elms area where over the coming two decades 16,000 homes are expected to be built, providing 22,000 jobs during the construction phase and 25,000 permanent ones.

Wandsworth’s cabinet member for housing Cllr Paul Ellis said:
“The borough’s Hidden Homes scheme has exceeded all expectations since it was launched a decade ago. It has played a really significant role in increasing the borough’s supply of affordable housing as well as creating jobs in the construction sector and also in regenerating redundant land on housing estates.

“It is fitting that its biggest single scheme will be formally unveiled to mark this landmark anniversary and that three dozen families in housing need will be offered new homes. Across the board, Wandsworth has seen a significant increase in activity across all parts of the housing sector and this is delivering the new homes that local people need.

“I am especially delighted that the supply of affordable housing is so healthy. Providing a mix of homes for rent and shared ownership is playing a crucial role in meeting the housing needs of local people.”

November 14, 2012