Council reveals plan to clamp down on housing providers who flunk out on affordable housing promises

News Desk (05 October, 2017) Housing Regeneration

Seven-year audit of affordable housing deals with developers and housing associations will be published in March/April 2018

15417Cllr Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration and new homes

Southwark Council has said its first annual audit of affordable housing deals with developers will reach back to 2010, in a victory for campaigners.

Last year Southwark was heavily criticised by a government ombudsman for failing to monitor whether developers were providing affordable housing, promised in exchange for planning permission.

The ombudsman took action after receiving findings of a wide-ranging investigation by the 35% Campaign. Their evidence gave dozens of  examples where property firms, and even housing associations, were allegedly charging tenants above rates that they had agreed with the council, or selling properties that were intended for tenants on low incomes.

Now, Southwark Council has told the News that its first audit will look right back to 2010, when the current Labour administration took office. It will look at 709 separate affordable housing agreements, applicable to 3,256 homes.

The list is due to be completed during this month, and will be sent to developers and housing associations. Following the potential need for further investigation, the audit will be published by March/April 2018.

Councillor Mark Williams, Southwark’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: “Increasing the amount of affordable housing in Southwark  is one of our highest priorities and we take enforcing Section 106 agreements with developers incredibly seriously.”

UK councils have the power to force property firms to provide affordable housing using Section 106 agreements (of the 1990 Town & Country Planning Act).

Cllr Williams added: “The council has a strong record in securing new affordable housing, and if we suspect that affordable homes have not been delivered as consented then we take action.

“Recently we have had two successful enforcement cases (Jam factory and The Signal building), where we recovered the affordable housing the developers were obliged to provide. We are currently carrying out an audit of affordable housing which will complete soon, and will set up a robust system to check future schemes so should this happen again we can again take action.”

Terence Redpath says:

It takes an action group to push the council into doing an audit it should already be doing. It just shows the ineptness of officers and councillors in not securing these policy requirements in the first place.

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