House building: Southwark among worst performing London boroughs says Government analysis

Josh Salisbury (06 March, 2019) Housing

The housing delivery test said Southwark needed to build 5,941 new homes in three years but only managed 4,771 - a shortfall of 1,170 new homes

28240Photo credit: Marcbela

Southwark was among the worst performing London boroughs for building the new homes it requires over the past three years, according to a recently published Government analysis.

The Government’s ‘Housing Delivery Test’ ranks the number of new homes built of any type from 2015 to 2018 in local authorities across the country versus the number of homes they needed to build in the same period.

Anything less than 95 per cent of new homes built to amount needed is considered a test ‘failure’ – and developers in Southwark only managed to build 80 per cent of homes the borough requires.

Southwark needed to build 5,941 new homes in the three years, the test states, but only managed 4,771, a shortfall of 1,170 new homes.

The statistic puts Southwark among the worst performing London boroughs for housing delivery during the period, building fewer required homes than nearby Lambeth or Tower Hamlets.

Redbridge in East London was the worst performing borough, managing to build only 38 per cent of the new homes it requires over the three-year-period.

Cllr Johnson Situ, who holds the development portfolio for Southwark Council, said the authority was operating in a challenging environment

Cllr Johnson Situ, the council cabinet member with responsibility for development, said that delivering “genuinely affordable homes” was a priority for town hall bosses but it was operating in a “particularly challenging” environment.

He told the paper: “We have delivered 4,771 homes against one of the highest targets in London, and particularly challenging in a densely-built, central-London borough where town planning requires a fine balance to protect existing buildings and residents’ wishes as well as increasing the housing supply.

“We also have an ambitious target for home-building that we have set ourselves, a long-term strategy which, over the years, will exceed the targets set by the Government and ensure that there is good quality housing for everyone for years to come.”

He added he recognised more needed to be done to address the housing crisis, and that the council is “looking at a range of measures to ensure homes are built quickly after planning permission is granted.”

The opposition Liberal Democrats’ housing spokesperson, Cllr Hamish McCallum, said part of the problem was a lack of consultation from the council on its development projects.

“As a result, new plans to build homes are understandably met with suspicion and resentment,” he told the News.

“They’re seen to be done to local people, rather than with them.

“Labour’s instinct for imposing centrally planned decisions has built up problems that we are now all dealing with.”

He added: “Only by working together can we start to really address the housing crisis.”

Alternative figures provided to the council by the London Development Database appear to paint a rosier picture than the Government’s assessment, stating 5,252 homes have been built in Southwark in those three years.

But this would still fall below the 95 per cent benchmark for what the Government considers successful housing delivery, a shortfall of over 600 homes.

According to guidance published by the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government, authorities which do not see 95 per cent of the homes they need being built should develop an action plan to address the under-delivery for future years.

The borough, like many London local authorities, has sharply experienced the effects of the country’s housing crisis, with over 2,700 households in temporary accommodation in the borough.

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