‘We want more social homes by 2030 than 1970s Heyday’: Ward politicians lobby Labour high command over Aylesbury social housing

Katherine Johnston (18 October, 2018) Politics Regeneration

'It is testament to how far we have come as a party that improving the Aylesbury deal is such a real possibility'

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Faraday Ward, the home of the partly demolished Aylesbury Estate, could have more social housing by 2030 than in its 1970s heyday after Theresa May scrapped the borrowing cap, say councillors hopeful for more funding.

Aylesbury Estate residents and local councillors have lobbied the council to push central government and the Mayor’s Office to provide more funding for social housing on the regenerated estate.

As it stands, plans for the new estate still include a minimum of 50 per cent affordable housing, of which 75 per cent will be social housing and 25 per cent shared ownership – but the council says this split is ‘not static.’

In its election manifesto, Labour committed that new regeneration projects will not cause a net loss of council homes – a promise ward councillors and residents want retrospectively applied to the Aylesbury.

Now, the News can reveal, Faraday Ward councillors say they have the support of key cabinet members at Southwark Council and a change in policy from the top has supercharged their likelihood of success, after Theresa May’s announcement that the government will scrap its cap on what councils can borrow against their housing revenue accounts to build.

In her speech at the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister told the audience: “Solving the housing crisis is the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation.”

In a statement exclusively shared with the News, Faraday Ward’s labour branch said: “The Branch does not believe that the policies around the Aylesbury regeneration should remain static in the face of progressive politics from our own party locally and nationally, and the desperate state of the current government policy. We cannot be at odds with the policy of our national party, our local party or our London Mayor.

“In particular, we noted that no other council estate regeneration in our borough under our administration or in the country under a Labour government would be allowed to deliver fewer socially rented homes than were originally on the footprint.

“Despite positive aspects to this scheme, including the increase to socially rented family homes, it is undeniable that the Aylesbury regeneration as it stands does not do this.”

The statement goes on to explain the branch supports the estate’s regeneration, calls on the council to purchase more homes off-plan from developer Notting Hill to rent out as social housing, and build more homes across the ward as a whole as ‘there should be more socially rented homes in Faraday ward than when the original estate was completed’, before concluding: “We are pleased that the cabinet member for growth, development and planning, Cllr Johnson Situ and the cabinet member for social regeneration, great estates, and new council homes, Cllr Leo Pollak have both engaged with our councillors on the basis of these principles.

“To this end, they have agreed to progress the above, which is a constructive, socialist step forward to ensure we have a regeneration for the many, not the few.”

Cllr Paul Fleming, told the News: “It is testament to how far we have come as a party that improving the Aylesbury deal is such a real possibility.

“The evolution of a good policy into a brilliant one is testament to the hard work of colleagues from the grassroots to the national leadership and our cabinet comrades in Southwark.

“It also shows once and for all that those who seek to portray regenerations as singularly bad for our communities are fundamentally wrong.”

As yet there are no formal plans around how the end to the borrowing cap will affect the council’s budget, but the News understands the council also has other financial options on the table.

When asked how the Aylesbury Estate regeneration is progressing, Cllr Situ said: “We are getting on and delivering on the Aylesbury Regeneration agreement, and it is important to recognise the number of social homes in this policy is not static.”

“We welcome the continued support of local councillors for the Aylesbury Regeneration agreement and as part of our borough wide strategy we will be exploring how we can deliver more social housing on and beyond the footprint of the Aylesbury.”

Yet Southwark Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Anood Al-Samerai, questioned Labour’s record on housing, telling the News: “Labour’s record on council housing has been very poor.

“They’re lost over two thousand council homes while only managing to build and let around two hundred.

“As for the Aylesbury specifically, the final result must be to have more social housing than we had to begin with, with properly mixed-income communities.”

 

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