Wandsworth Housing Offer
The council's far-reaching Housing Strategy, known as the Wandsworth Housing Offer, is a pledge to deliver 18,000 homes over the next ten years.
It's our commitment to deliver and improve housing in the borough, which goes further than ever before by setting out how we will help a much broader range of people achieve their housing aspirations.
Years of undersupply of housing in London and a rapid growth in population means there are not enough homes in London to meet demand.
This has resulted in spiralling private rent and house prices, people having less choice about the type of housing they live in, limiting their aspirations and blocking residents' opportunities to make the next step as homebuyers.
Our Wandsworth Housing Offer seeks to redress this by setting out a broad and innovative range of initiatives to deliver more homes and improve housing standards.
Wandsworth Housing Offer
By significantly boosting the supply of housing in the borough we aim to bring back affordability and choice for the diverse range of people and families moving and living here, such as young people, working families, couples, older and existing residents.
In the strategy, the Leader of the council, Cllr Ravi Govindia, set out ways by which this would be achieved:
· making better use of public sector land, and enabling more development, including of genuinely affordable homes to buy and to rent
· making better use of the council’s housing stock, including Decent Homes Plus improvements
· through creative initiatives, such as House Purchase Grants
· continued support of private sector-led development that provides housing as well as infrastructure
The following summarises a few brief highlights of progress so far.
Making better use of public sector land
The Wandsworth Housing Offer sets out how the council will work together with housing associations and other public sector landholders to make better use of their assets, in order to build more homes. The strategy originally described how the council would build 200 homes on under-used spaces on its own housing estates. This has now been increased to 300 due to the council taking advantage of additional receipts from Right to Buy sales. All properties in the pipeline will be offered to local people to rent at below market prices. The council is also planning to build 3,260 homes through estate regeneration schemes in Battersea and Roehampton, reproviding all council homes on site at social rents, as well as more for below market rent, and market rent with longer tenancies.
Example of progress: construction is to begin soon at sites on Wandsworth High Street and Garratt Lane, formerly owned by the council and South Thames College. London and Quadrant Housing Trust is to build 200 new homes, 50 of which are for local residents to rent or buy at a below market rate, along with a new library and improved pedestrian links between the high street and the under-used green space of the Old Burial Ground.
Enabling more development, including for affordable homes
The council expects that any planning application for 20 homes or more should provide up to 50 per cent as affordable housing, subject to a thorough and independent assessment where it is claimed that this cannot be achieved. In 2015/16, this approach led to a record number of affordable homes to buy or rent being completed, double the anticipated number, and due to partnership working with developers.
Example of progress: 501 homes for shared ownership and below market rent have been completed in 2015/16, one of the highest results in London. This high performance is set to continue with a further 1,742 affordable homes is expected to be complete within the next three years. It is possible only though successful partnerships with developers, yielding results such as the expected completion of hundreds of new homes for rent in 2019/20, four years earlier than planned.
Making better use of the council’s housing stock
Social rent housing stock in the borough is made up of 17,000 council homes and 11,000 housing association properties, with 2,000 for sheltered accommodation split equally between the council and social landlords.
During a ten year period the housing strategy aims to support a target of rehousing 600 under-occupying tenants who wish to downsize, freeing up these larger social rented homes for other local families in need. This is why the council has established a dedicated team to support and incentives for households seeking to move, and increased the House Purchase Grant for households wanting to both move and buy their own home.
Example of progress: in 2015/16, a total of 85 households have moved to smaller and more suitable accommodation, up from 53 the previous year. Thirty two council tenants took up a House Purchase Grant I 2015/16, nearly double the previous year, freeing up their social rented homes for local families in need.
Decent Homes Plus
All of Wandsworth’s council homes already meet the national Decent Homes standard, and the Wandsworth Housing Offer includes a £71m pledge to continue improving its housing beyond this threshold.
This includes improvements to existing homes, and to the safety and connectivity of outside areas.
So far, works either under way, planned, or out to resident consultation, are as follows:
· Upgraded kitchens, bathrooms, lifts, and entry systems across the borough
· Roof, window, heating and extractor fan renewal, Alton estate
· Roof and window works, Ashburton (South) estate
· Window renewals, Convent, Surrey Lane and Latchmere estates
· Rewiring, Henry Prince estate
The housing strategy explains how the council aims to pilot, and expand, a range of small schemes to both support home ownership and make better use of existing council housing.
Examples of progress: financial support is offered to council tenants to buy homes on the open market or through shared ownership, freeing up council homes for local households in need. Last year this initiative saved an estimated £433,920 in temporary accommodation costs for households awaiting a council home. On 1 August 2016 the council grant available for a studio or one-bedroom was increased to £60,000, and up to £80,000 for two-, three- and four-bedroom properties.
Private rented housing
The Wandsworth Housing Offer acknowledges a growth in private renting in recent years, due in part to affordability of home ownership becoming an increasing problem. It is estimated that there 44,300 privately renting households in the borough.
A survey of tenants in the borough has reported that of the 736 respondents, two thirds cited inability to buy a home as the main reason for privately renting. Sixty four per cent were aged under 35.
Seventy five per cent stated that it was important or very important to have the option of a longer tenancy. The council is proposing to build more than 100 homes specifically for private renting, and with longer tenancies, as part of an estate regeneration scheme in Battersea.
Example of progress: More than 100 new homes for private renting are expected to become available from Spring 2017, as part of the Nine Elms regeneration. The new properties, with longer, more secure tenancies, will be made available to renters with a local connection. L&Q housing association will act as landlord for the new rental homes, as part of the redevelopment of the former Christie’s Fine Arts warehouse by developer Bellway.