Lambeth confronts the housing crisis

The Housing Crisis that Lambeth faces is stark and severe. 21,000 people are now on our waiting list for social housing, 1,800 families are homeless and in temporary accommodation, including almost 5000 children. Over 1,300 families in the borough live in severely overcrowded accommodation.

Families living in the private rented sector in Lambeth face an average rent close to £1,500 per month, have little security, with short tenancies.

It’s for this reason that Lambeth has launched the biggest housebuilding programme for a generation. The council is committed to at least 1,000 extra homes for council rent by 2019 and will help fund these homes by building hundreds of new homes for private renters in the borough.

To achieve this, amid crippling spending restrictions, the council has set up Homes for Lambeth, fully owned by the council, so that we can build the homes we need to house the local community and keep Lambeth mixed and diverse.

Where the council owns land ready for development we’re moving quickly to build these homes. Somerleyton Road in Brixton already has planning permission for 300 new homes, all for rent and all with priority for the local community but there isn’t enough of this kind of undeveloped land in Lambeth.

However, the council has several council estates, built to a low density to meet the needs of the borough in the 1960s and 1970s when the population of Lambeth was much lower than it is now. Many tenants are living in dilapidated conditions that the council can’t afford to refurbish and many more are living in overcrowded homes because of the lack of family sized homes in the borough.

That’s why Lambeth is pursuing a major estate rebuilding programme. Last autumn the council’s cabinet approved plans for three estates in the north of the borough - at WestburySouth Lambeth and Knights Walk - leading to 500 extra homes, almost 300 of which will be at council rent. The remainder will be for private renters.

Next week, Lambeth’s cabinet will consider the proposal to rebuild Cressingham Gardens in Tulse Hill. After replacing homes for all existing residents this would also mean an extra 158 homes for local people; 47% of them would be affordable, including tens of extra family homes for council rent. 

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Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet member for Housing, said:

"Faced with a lack of money for refurbishment and a serious shortage of genuinely affordable homes, the council is taking a lead in bold, but necessary, decisions like estate rebuilding to build better homes for our existing tenants and more homes for the wider community."

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This blog post was first published in theBALANCE, Lambeth's monthly eNewsletter. Signup to get this newsletter directly here

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