Council sets out far-reaching housing strategy

Published: 20 January 2015

A 60 per cent increase in the borough’s home building target is at the heart of a far-reaching housing strategy unveiled by Wandsworth Council.

If approved, the authority would be committed to delivering 18,000 homes in ten years, up from the previous target of 11,000.

The council’s strategy, called the ‘Wandsworth Housing Offer’, sets out a series of connected initiatives which aim to provide a broader range of housing options and to improve standards in different areas of the market, including the private rent sector.

The proposals recognise that, across London, years of undersupply and rapid population growth mean there are not enough homes of any type or tenure to meet demand. Many residents have become stuck in housing which does not meet their needs or aspirations, with little or no opportunity to make the next step.

The ‘Wandsworth Housing Offer’, if approved, commits the council to going further than ever before to help people in different housing situations to make a positive move.

It will see the council begin to exercise new freedoms over how it manages its resources, accelerate its own home building programme, take forward major regeneration plans for three council estates and could include establishing a housing company to deliver more homes for local people to rent.

Council leader Ravi Govindia said:

“Through the Wandsworth Housing Offer we will help a broader range of people than ever before and will boost supply right across the local housing market. It amounts to a major expansion of our traditional local authority housing role and makes full use of new freedoms to manage our resources and take risks.

“Our key objective is to sustain a significant increase in housing supply with a focus on providing opportunities for the diverse range of households living and moving here. This includes older householders, the sons and daughters of our existing residents and the young singles and couples who make up an important part of the borough population.

“Our strategy will see new social housing, affordable housing and homes for private rent and private sale delivered in far greater numbers. Maximising supply across all tenures is the only way to close the gap between supply and demand and to bring affordability back to the London and south east housing market.

“Increasing mobility between different housing types is another key objective so better use is made of the homes we already have. We recognise that no sector of the market works in isolation and improving access to one area, such as low cost homeownership, frees up space in another, such as the private rent sector.

“We will use council and other public sector assets more creatively to drive up the new homes supply and will purchase properties to rent to local people on different terms. We will also incentivise, finance and support other home builders to deliver more of the housing our residents need. This will include helping local people build homes themselves on surplus land and using our planning powers to encourage the delivery of lower cost private rent homes in suitable locations.

“We will develop a new model of private rent housing for Wandsworth residents and do much more to encourage local landlords to provide the longer, more stable rental contracts which allow people to put down roots.

“Our strategy sets out highly ambitious plans for improving our existing council housing including £77millon of ‘Decent Homes Plus’ investment over the next three years that will keep our estates above the national standards. We are also taking forward transformative regeneration projects in Battersea and Roehampton which go hand-in-hand with a range of education, skills training, employment and health initiatives which all have a vital role to play in helping our community’s to prosper.

“As the Mayor’s new housing strategy makes clear, the only way to tackle London’s housing shortage and spiralling prices is through a major increase in home building and greater mobility. Every council has to play its part and the Wandsworth Housing Offer sets out our long term commitment and contribution to this challenge.”

Read the full Wandsworth Housing Offer strategy document online. The proposals will be discussed by the council's  housing and regeneration committee on Wendesday 21 January.

ENDS