Southwark Council’s Labour leadership have been accused by their Lib Dem opposition of not doing enough to force developers to provide enough “affordable” homes.
The criticism came after councillor Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration, vowed that new developments along the Old Kent Road “would not be considered” unless they abided by the council’s 35 per cent affordable housing policy.
Cllr Williams’ comment were made after the News reported that a developer, Berkeley Homes, had submitted plans for over 1,000 flats in industrial land around Malt Street, whilst only promising “a minimum” of 25 per cent affordable homes.
However, when pressed by the News, he would not commit to extending the zero tolerance policy across the whole borough. Southwark Lib Dems leader Anood Al-Samerai said: “The bigger question is why not apply this to every developer? It’s great that they’re doing this in Old Kent Road, but why not the rest of the borough? And they should be going further. It should be 35 per cent social rent.
“People can’t afford to continue living in the area where they grew up. Developers time and time again manage to get away with providing less than 35 per cent affordable housing across the borough.
“I have spoken to a planning consultant who has worked for some of the bigger developers in this borough. They told me that actually developers might feel more inclined to put more affordable housing in, but our planning committee passes so many planning applications that they know they don’t need to try.”
Responding to the criticism, Cllr Williams said: “We have a strong record of securing new affordable homes and since 2011/12 the average number of affordable homes built has been 42% on these schemes. This is despite the changes brought in by the then Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government, who slashed funding for new affordable homes.
“On the Old Kent Road we are proposing to release large amounts of protected industrial land for mixed use development that will increase employment and deliver 20,000 new homes, all supported by the extension of the Bakerloo Line. Releasing this lower value industrial land for mixed use development is based on 35% affordable housing.”
Jerry Flynn of the 35% Campaign said: “Mark’s comment is welcome, but the proof will be in the pudding. They now need to show they will enforce it.”