Building affordable homes

On Monday I asked questions in Council about our plans for affordable housing in Boleyn. I am working to ensure that we get the full 35% that was promised on the day planning permission was granted. I’m also keen to ensure that ‘affordable’ really is affordable.

Every week I have residents approaching me for help with housing. Often it’s families living in council houses that were once suitable but, now as the children grow up, are bursting at the seams. Parents and children suffer when they are crammed into the same bedroom.

I see the impact this has on family relationships, on health and on job security. It’s amazing how destructive lack of sleep can be.

Newham has a strong record of regulating the private rented sector and cracking down on rogue landlords, but like every other London borough, when it comes to social housing, demand far outstrips supply.

For every one property that becomes available we have 63 applicants on the waiting list.

Newham is responding to this London-wide crisis by building more homes. You can read about our plans for the whole borough here.

As Councillor in Boleyn, I’m working to make sure that the considerable new developments we have locally mean more homes available to existing residents.

The old West Ham United ground is to be developed into 842 homes. These will be a mix of one, two and three bed houses.

Our policy is that at least 35% will be affordable. This percentage can be a mix of on and off site. So you could have say 25% on site and then use the money for the final 10% to buy houses elsewhere. This can make sense if the homes are expensive and we can get more for our money elsewhere.

I’ll be tracking this commitment with regard to the Boleyn site. If all the homes were on site we’d expect 295 affordable homes. If some are off site we might get even more. I want to make sure the commitment is rock solid and backed by the Council, and not dependent on high developer profits.

We have something called a ‘review mechanism’ in the Boleyn site which means if the developer makes a lot more money than they said they would – the Council gets a share of it. That’s good, but our commitment to affordable housing shouldn’t depend on it.

With regard to ‘affordable’ being affordable – you can also see the definitions in the picture below. In short, the one and two bed affordable homes will cost no more than 70% of market rent (including service charges) and the three beds, no more than 50%.

I am happy to see in the answer below that every single one of these first lets will go to Newham residents and I will be working to establish how we can ensure that these benefits are retained over time as people move on, for other members of our community.

I’ll be monitoring our commitment because every house matters. Every one of those affordable homes will change lives for the better.

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