Southwark Soapbox: how to tackle Southwark’s huge housing waiting list

Kit Heren (31 March, 2022)

Southwark News is holding debates on key policy issues with local politicians ahead of the elections on May 5 - and showing them to Southwark residents to get their reactions.

“There are gaps in communication!” Ola, one of four households taking part in Southwark Soapbox, this paper’s project to boost turnout in the May local elections, burst out. “There are gaps in communication.”

Southwark News is holding debates on key policy issues with local politicians ahead of the elections on May 5 – and showing them to Southwark residents to get their reactions.
About 60 new council homes are planned for Newington, a ward near Elephant and Castle where our households are based, as part of plans to tackle the waiting list of thousands of households.

Asked if residents’ regular complaints that they were not being consulted enough by the council over new homes were fair, Labour’s Cllr Alice Macdonald said she disagreed.

But Brandon Estate resident and mother-of-four Ola had other ideas, complaining that she and other residents weren’t being told about Southwark’s plans.

Her fellow Brandon resident Paula added: “I didn’t hear anything about any progress or how they are planning… to achieve this.”

The new homes in Newington are part of a wider Labour scheme to get 11,000 homes built by 2043.

Southwark Soapbox: why does this woman think she’d be better having a bath outside than in her flat?

Laughing, Ola went on: “2043? Do they plan to be in power till then?”

The Liberal Democrat Cllr Graham Neale said he was pleased that so many new council homes were being built. But discussing private housing developments, he said he was “very disappointed” that the council’s planning committees do not make sure housebuilders commit to 35 per cent affordable housing enough.

Nodding, Oyster Court resident Neil said: “It does seem like all this fancy stuff goes up, and they say ‘it’s going to be affordable stuff’ and then actually it’s not, it just gets bought up by wealthy people from abroad.”

Southwark Soapbox: what do our residents think about ‘infill’ plans for new council homes on existing estates?

Paula remained unmoved by Cllr Neale’s words. “He seems worried by this situation,” she said, laughing ruefully. “But I don’t know if he wants to do anything about it!”

The Greens’ Clare Wood agreed with Cllr Neale. “Labour does have a very bad track record on making sure that new developments have space for social housing and local residents, and the idea of affordable housing is something that is hidden behind, because how affordable is it really for the local people.”

Southwark Soapbox: how can we solve the borough’s housing problems? Residents and politicians have their say

She pointed to the Heygate, a former estate near Elephant and Castle roundabout that was sold off for below its full value to a private developer more than ten years ago. But Paula said that in her opinion the former estate was “not good” – and that the new private development that has replaced it is “bright, modern, very nice.”

bea says:

southwark council can get a handle with the housing waiting list because it out of control and they just cant house all the family that are waiting for a home ,and am one of them ,ive been on the list for 13years and at the time i was living with my mu and she choose to downside and that left me and my child with autism homeless and it aint are fault ,but they could of rehousing me straight away know my situation but choose not too,so now am in temporary housing with a child with needs and they aint that worried ,and ive living in this country all my live and worked and payed my taxs and thats how i get treated i think its bad ,they need to rethink how they rehouse family or single people who put in to community .

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