The details of every new council home being built in Southwark can be revealed for the first time, with data exclusively shared with Southwark News.
The newly obtained figures show exactly how many homes are in the works for each ward in Southwark, from London Bridge and Bermondsey to Dulwich Village.
Labour was elected on its commitment to build what it says is the largest new council house programme in the last forty years – 11,000 new homes by 2043 – with ‘at least’ 1,000 of them completed by 2022.
The current pipeline has over 2,700 council homes either completed, on site, or in the early stages of public consultation or planning approval.
Last week’s announcement that Southwark had been awarded more than a half a million by the London Mayor’s Homebuilding Capacity Fund was particularly welcomed by the council’s elected housing boss, Leo Pollak.
Twenty-plus new sites will be added into the current pipeline by the end of June – including those on sites recently purchased by the council.
The Bermondsey councillor said the cash injection would help ‘expand and accelerate’ its existing plans by effectively creating twelve new jobs within the council so its ‘resource-strapped’ team could get more done.
“Since 2013 we have already built 730 new homes, of which 635 are council rent,” he told the News. “In the pipeline are 2,000 more across 70 sites, but we need more skills and to up our headcount in the council to speed up the delivery.”
Southwark Council’s housing record has been criticised by groups such as the 35 per cent campaign, who say wholesale demolitions like the Aylesbury and Heygate mean Southwark is losing council homes faster than it can build them.
As the News has reported, a government analysis showed the council is not only failing to keep up with demand, but is one of the worst performing boroughs in London.
Southwark needed to build 5,941 new homes in the three years, the test states, but only managed 4,771 – leaving a shortfall of 1,170 new homes.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have attacked Labour’s poor record in bringing empty properties back into use, arguing the estimated 6,000 empty properties in the borough should have a council tax hike or forcibly be taken over.
It is certainly true Southwark Council is operating in a tough climate.
Although the housing borrowing cap has been lifted by central government, the council still struggles to cover the cost of new homes through grant funding and financing.
Pollak says it costs, on average, £310,000 to construct each new home – up from just about £200,000 in 2010. The legacy of right to buy, and land speculation, both muddy the waters.
Between 30 and 55 per cent of Southwark Council’s 16,000 leaseholder homes in Southwark are now rented privately.
Incredibly, as the News has reported, the council is even forced to spend money renting them back from their owners for its tenants.
Meanwhile, when the council does try to build new housing, it is faced with over-inflated land prices from what Cllr Pollack has dubbed the ‘great south London land rush’.
With 25,000 people listed on Southwark’s housing register, for many the chances of getting a council home that meets their needs may seem almost impossible.
But Pollak is optimistic the new homes programme will deliver for residents.
One of the first projects scheduled for completion within weeks – or even days – is Sumner Road in Peckham, a new complex including 66 council homes. Thirteen new homes are also due for completion on Old Kent Road’s Tustin Estate this month.
Elsewhere, builders are already on site in Odessa Street in Surrey Docks, Lakanal Shops New Build in Camberwell, Meeting House Lane in Peckham, and the Tenda Road car park in Bermondsey.
And diggers are starting on seventeen new homes on Pelier Street in Newington ward and Chilton Grove Rooftop in Rotherhithe – which will have 44 new council homes.
The focus is not just on sheer numbers, as it is hoped aspirational and high-quality designs will make the borough best in class.
“Council housing is a prestigious tenure and we want to lead the race to the top,” he said.
Available in the next three months
Currently under construction, Meeting House Lane in Peckham (below) will have 29 new council homes and a new community centre
Pelier Street in Newington ward will have 17 new council homes (below)
Albion St Rotherhithe (below), 14 council homes and 12 London living rent homes
The News visits new homes in Peckham
Amanda Merrigan (above) has lived in a second floor maisonette on the North Peckham Estate for 20 years.
Describing herself as ‘excited but a bit scared’ about the change, she said having so many people moving who already know each other would make a big difference on the new estate.
“There is a real community around here, and everyone looks out for everyone else,” she said.
Climbing six flights of stairs each day to her current flat was getting more and more difficult with her COPD and back problems, so the accessible flat would make a huge difference to her and her children who still live at home.
Abimbola Asiwaju (pictured above, with her daughter) will be moving to her new tenancy on Sumner Road from Blackthorne Court after bidding for a new property for the last decade.
“We found out in November when the flat was being built, which we were very happy about,” she told the News.
The mum of three says moving into a three bedroom home means, for the first time, her fourteen-year-old son will have his own room.
“It is very beautiful here – I never even dreamt of anything like it. With the garden, kids can play here without us worrying,” she said.
“I’m hoping to get the keys next week.”
For the last ten years, Claire Fearon (pictured above with Cllr Leo Pollak) , also from Blackthorne Court, has been bidding for a new home for her family.
In that time, she and her partner have had four children, including twins. In 2011, they were added to band 2 of the housing list.
“My son is sleeping in the kitchen and living room with us, and our daughters are in one room,” she said.
“It’s just literally been a nightmare and my back hurts so much from getting the buggy up the stairs.
“This new flat is just perfect and we are so excited and packed up ready to finally move in.”
Locations of homes completing within the next three months
Construction is just finishing on:
- Sumner Road, Peckham (66 council homes)
- Tustin Estate, Old Kent Road (13 council homes)
Currently on site at:
- 1-5 Odessa Street, Surrey Docks (19 council homes)
- Lakanal Shops New Build, Camberwell (28 council homes)
- Meeting House Lane, Peckham (29 council homes)
- Tenda Road Car park, Bermondsey (12 council homes)
Starting this month on site at:
- Pelier Street, Newington (17council homes)
- Chilton Grove Rooftop Development, Rotherhithe (44 council homes)
- Copeland Road car park, Peckham (24 council homes)
Starting on site over the next three months at:
- Thaxted Court / Damory House Rooftop Development (28 council) [Due July]
- 35-41 Nunhead Lane (12 council homes) [Now due July, contract negotiations]
- Daniels Road, Nunhead (19 council homes) [Now due July, contract negotiations]
- Ivy Church Lane, Old Kent Rd (21 council homes) [Now due July, contract negotiations]
Tendering for a contractor:
- Commercial way, Peckham (74 council homes)
- 39-44 Rutley Close, Newington (25 council homes)
- Beormund School Crosby Row (& former Bellenden
- School site), Bermondsey (31 council homes)
- Welsford Street Garages, Bermondsey (10 council homes)
- Albion St former library site and former primary school site, Rotherhithe (39 council homes)
- Rye Hill Park Garages, Peckham Rye (23 council homes)
- Haddonfield garages, Rotherhithe (14 council homes)
- Goschen Estate, Camberwell (17council homes)
Planning Permission approved for:
- Deverell St, Chaucer (40 council homes)
- Petrol Station, 233-247 Old Kent Road (13 council homes)
Planning application submitted for:
- 21/23 Parkhouse Street, Camberwell (16 council homes)
- Angel Oak Academy, Peckham (26 council homes) [Now due Aug]
- Sedgemoor Place, Camberwell (13 council homes)
- Salisbury Est Car Park, Walworth (26 council homes)
- Sceaux Gardens, Camberwell (80 council homes)
- Henslowe Road, East Dulwich (4 council homes)
- 66 Linden Grove, Nunhead (27 council homes)
- Bassano Street, East Dulwich (3 council homes)
- Tissington podium, Rotherhithe (35-42 council homes)
- Underhill Road, East Dulwich (7council homes )
- Heaton House, Peckham (8 council homes )
Note: Seavington House and Garages, Camberwell (35) -on hold pending redesign