16 July 2013

BIG NEWS for Southwark: Your Labour Council will build 10,000 new homes

Southwark's Labour run Council will be making a really huge announcement at a council Cabinet meeting this afternoon.  Council leader Peter John will set out plans to build 10,000 new council homes over the next thirty years.

This will be one of the biggest home building programmes of its kind in the country and shows how politics really can make a positive difference.  Everyone knows that there is an acute shortage of affordable housing in our borough, and this bold move will make a big difference to the lives of thousands of local families.  Southwark Labour has made a decision to buck the national trend and invest in the most important thing to any family - good quality, affordable housing.  

The decision follows on from the hugely influential Independent Housing Commission Report, chaired by Jan Luba QC. The Commission set out different options for the council which involved maintaining current levels of council housing, or reducing the number of homes.

Having carefully considered its finances and spoken to residents, Southwark has decided to intervene decisively and put an end to the steady, long-term reduction of affordable housing in our borough.  Labour is now committed to increasing the council's housing stock and improving the the quality of all homes in the borough and put more trust in local people to manage their homes and communities.

Southwark has a waiting list of 20,000 for council homes, and Labour has already committed to building 1,000 new council homes by 2020. The announcement reveals an even more ambitious programme of homebuilding to meet demand.

Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John, said: 

"I'm incredibly proud to announce that Southwark Council will build 10,000 new council homes in the borough over the next thirty years. I can't overstate the significance of this decision, at a time when the trend is for council housing to be sold off more often than it is built, despite huge demand for affordable homes.

"We announced last year that we plan to build 1,000 new council homes in the next few years, and we are well on our way to delivering that plan. But frankly, even that large number of homes will barely scratch the surface of our 20,000-long housing waiting list, and we don't want to sit around waiting for an inevitable crisis to happen - we need to act now.

"We're a relatively small borough in terms of geography but we punch above our weight - people want to live and work here, and with our regeneration of areas like Elephant & Castle, and Peckham, not to mention the London Bridge quarter, demand for homes in the borough will only increase.

"We're working with private developers to bring a range of different types of housing to all parts of Southwark, but as a council we are passionately committed to helping the most vulnerable in society, and that is why we need council housing above all else.

"My own vision for housing in Southwark in 30 years time is of a place where you will not know whether you are visiting an estate in private or council ownership; where the quality of our council homes rivals or exceeds those produced for private sale, and where those properties are managed and maintained either by their residents, or the council, or by a combination of both – but always with the agreement and support of their residents.

"I hope other councils will look at our plans and consider joining Southwark in reversing the trend away from council housing, and start building now for a fairer future for all."

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