Developers questioned on missed targets for affordable housing

Published:  08 June, 2018

Those in charge of building affordable homes in London deny claims they have missed their targets.

The London Legacy Development Corporation is responsible for turning the Olympic Park, where the London 2012 Olympics took place, into affordable housing schemes. It was quizzed earlier this week by the Mayor’s Housing Committee, which monitors affordable housing in London, on its failure to meet its targets.

Six thousand homes have been built on the park so far. A target of 1,471 new homes was set for 2017, but just 753 were completed, and seventy-five of these homes were affordable, which is a quarter of the target.

The LLDC was represented at the meeting by Paul Brickell, Executive Director of Regeneration, and Rosanna Lawes, Executive Director of Development and Community Partnerships. Committee Chairwoman Sian Berry asked them why the targets were not met, and Brickell said that the LLDC had actually been exceeding targets. He said that, so far, the LLDC had completed 1,800 homes a year – 400 more than the target and, while the LLDC had not met its target for the last three years, the very high number of homes that had been built in the first year still puts it ahead of target overall.

Brickell added that he did not foresee that the yearly targets would continue to be missed, as there are 4,000 homes in the pipeline to be built on the site in the next 12 to 18 months. When Committee members asked him why only 74 out of the 753 homes built last year were affordable, he said that, in the last three years, 20% of the homes built on the Olympic site were affordable and, in Wick Side, one of the neighbourhoods in the Park, 35% were affordable.

Lawes said that in Chobham Manor, which is one of the neighbourhoods built on the park, 80 out of 259 homes built were affordable (30%). Brickell added that under Mayor Sadiq Khan, it is now easier to negotiate a higher percentage of social housing with developers, and that the LLDC is committed to achieving its target of 50% affordable housing.

Vice-chairman Tom Copley said that the LLDC’s target for affordable rental accommodation is 65% social housing and 35% intermediate (at a discount on the market rate). Lawes admitted that in some of the neighbourhoods, such as Wick Side, the percentage was the other way round.

When asked why just 38% of planning permissions were granted in 2017, the LLDC’s representatives could not answer, stating they would need to ask their Director of Planning. When asked whether the LLDC would be working with developers to renegotiate the definition of affordable rent to keep up with price rises in London, Brickell stated he would have to respond in writing.

The LLDC maintained that it was above target and that a good percentage of the homes built on the Olympic Park were affordable, but this did not correlate with the figures from the last three years that the Committee had, particularly in the last year.

Its representatives told the Committee they would send the answers to the questions they could not answer in the meeting in writing by the end of the week. The LLDC and Committee agreed that it would have been helpful if the Director of Planning of the LLDC had been present, and suggested he attended the next meeting. The Committee stated it would be questioning the LLDC again in another meeting.

Pictured: Members of the Housing Committee and LLDC in the meeting, which was live streamed on YouTube.

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