Wembley Matters has consistently raised the issue of Brent Council's obfuscation of the term 'affordable housing' and the need for clarity in the use of the term was highlighted recently by Cllr Rita Conneely, Chair of Scrutiny.
The issue has become more prominent as a result of the Council's intention to change the tenure of many of its planned infill housing on the council's own estates to shared ownership and open market sale. Brent Council's CEO, when denying that the council was building any shared ownership homes, has recently confirmed that shared ownership is not affordable for most Brent residents in need of housing.
Cllr Anton Georgiou (Alperton) has tabled a motion for debate at Monday's Full Council Council meeting that seeks clarity on the use of terminology, but much more importantly a commitment that projects on estates should be seeking to provide genuinely affordable social housing and not shared ownership or open market sale.
Building the Homes our Community Needs
This Council notes:
The pressures on Council Housing stock are immense and will not ease in the coming months and years, rather they will grow even more.
The Cost of Living Crisis, coupled with the disastrous macroeconomic situation in the UK, means it is increasingly likely that more local residents will turn to the Council to assume responsibility for their housing needs. As an authority, we need to be prepared for this.
Whilst we are grateful that Brent has made progress in seeking to supply Council Homes we need to see greater, more urgent resolve to deliver more Council Homes for Social tenants.
The latest report to Cabinet, entitled, ‘Update on the supply of New Affordable Homes’, sets out where Brent is when it comes to the delivery of the New Council Homes Programme (NCHP).
On the 14th November, the Cabinet was asked to formalise a change of approach that would allow Brent Council to deliver only 50% of new stock at Council Rent and London Affordable Rent level in its own developments. While this approach will deliver some Social Housing on Council owned land, this will be at the expense of current Estate residents, reduction of amenity space, and will not achieve our overriding ambition to reduce the ever-growing housing waiting list in a meaningful way. Council Land will be de-facto used to build housing out of reach for most Brent residents.
There are also a growing number of local people in our area, who have been life-long residents of Brent and who are now being priced out of the borough, because housing is too expensive.
Developers, who are granted consent for their private schemes by Brent’s Planning Committee, are not providing our area with the type of housing our community desperately needs.
This Council believes:
1. There needs to be greater clarity on terminology around housing, particularly what constitutes being ‘genuinely affordable housing’.
2. Targets and policy around house building, must be focused on seeking to reduce the housing waiting list and reduce the number of local people currently in temporary accommodation
3. Shared Ownership schemes are not a ‘genuinely affordable’ housing model and are not something that should be promoted by Brent
4. We need to be holding developers accountable and ensuring that a greater proportion of new stock built in our borough is genuinely affordable for local people
This Council resolves to:
1. Guarantee that the banner term ‘affordable housing’ is not used in communications, and instead council communications only refer to “genuinely affordable housing”.
2. Amend the Local Plan to ensure Affordable Housing is defined as being purely Council Rent, London Affordable Rent, London Living Rent, which would exclude Shared Ownership and Affordable Rent (below or equal to 80% of market value rent).
3. Ensure all new developments taking place on existing estates within our borough must be seeking to provide more Social Housing and not Shared Ownership or Market Sale units.
4. Increase the target of affordable units within private developments to match neighbouring Camden at 50%, with a split of 40% social rent and 60% others, in order to ensure we are building the homes our community really needs.