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Councillor Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Housing, blogs on Lambeth Council delivering the first new council homes in the borough for a generation 

In May, along with Lib Peck, Leader of Lambeth Council, I went to the opening of a fantastic partnership between the council and Vauxhall City Farm. Together we’ve put the farm on a secure footing as a great resource for local children (and adults…) and built the first eight council homes of our 1000 extra homes at council rent that we promised in our 2014 manifesto.


Councillor Bennett, Councillor Peck and representatives of Vauxhall City Farm and St James'

Now the next homes are nearly ready. On Akerman Road in Vassall ward, north of Brixton, nine new council homes are nearly ready for local families to move into. These family-sized homes will offer the chance for local families to put down roots in the area and have a secure, stable place to call home for the rest of their lives and it was great to look around them with local ward councillors, Jacqui Dyer, Paul Gadsby and Annie Gallop. 


New homes at Akerman Road                              

Lambeth is looking at every opportunity to build these 1000 extra homes for council rent.  We’re building on small sites like at Akerman Road; developing bigger schemes on brownfield land like at Somerleyton Road in Brixton and selling underused office blocks and building new social housing as part of the ‘Your New Town Hall’ project.  We are also working on six major estate regeneration projects, all seeing big increases in social housing, when the Government isn’t putting a penny towards genuinely affordable housing for Londoners.


Somerleyton Road 

Three of the new homes at Akerman Road have been built to the environmental gold standard, Passivhaus. This means the tenants who move in will almost never have to put the heating on – so the carbon impact on the environment of the new homes is as low as possible and the tenants’ fuel bills are kept low – tackling fuel poverty as well as housing costs.

As a Labour council we’re committed to building homes that meet the needs of local families. We’re proud that Lambeth is building again – and there are hundreds more homes like these coming in the next few years.

More New Council Homes

Councillor Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Housing, blogs on Lambeth Council delivering the first new council homes in the borough for a generation 

This week has been another frustrating one for thousands of Lambeth residents using Southern Rail. On a network beset by routine delays and poor service, a three day strike is resulting in an even longer commute for those who rely on these vital train services. 


Along with my Labour colleagues in Lambeth, I feel it’s utterly unacceptable that Southern Rail have been allowed to continue running a service that has shown little signs of improvement. Excuses and promises to change are not what passengers want. They just need a service that is efficient and runs on time, which is what they are paying for.

While this week may feel like another low point for the service, there are signs that pressure from residents and Lambeth Labour is beginning to push the government into taking action that is badly needed.

It was a welcome step forward that TfL have announced recently that they will take control of suburban rail services and integrate them into the London Overground network when the current franchises expires. This is something we have been campaigning for as one of the key aims of our ‘Back on Track’ Streatham Transport campaign. We also know that this is something that local residents have wanted to happen for some time.

These services coming under TfL’s control is a positive move that means we can look forward to more frequent, more reliable and less crowded services. However, we firmly believe that Streatham residents should not have to put up with the current unacceptable level of service until 2021. As commuters stand on crowded platforms and cramp into buses this week, I am sure they won’t be consoled by the fact that in five years services may begin to improve. 

As a result we need to continue to keep the pressure on ministers and TfL. Our central message is that we cannot afford to wait: the government needs to cancel the Southern Rail franchise and hand control of these services to Transport for London as soon as possible. At our next council meeting, we will be debating a motion that will make this Lambeth’s official policy – and I hope both the Greens and Tories will back our call. This is part of our concerted effort to get the best deal for our residents: and it’s time the government started listening to their voice. 

Cllr Danny Adilypour, Labour Councillor for Streatham South Ward



The Government must call time on Southern Rail

This week has been another frustrating one for thousands of Lambeth residents using Southern Rail. On a network beset by routine delays and poor service, a three day strike is...

Local ward councillor and Cabinet Member for Housing Matthew Bennett blogs on the future of the Central Hill Estate in Gipsy Hill

I’ve been a local councillor for the Central Hill estate since 2010.  Over the past seven years while knocking on doors and asking residents what’s important to them, the same issues come up again and again.  Too many homes suffer from damp, from mould, from disrepair.  Too many homes have problems with their drains, the kitchens and bathrooms are dilapidated and need replacing, roofs and water pipes leak.  The estate needs at least £18m of investment to bring it up to a decent standard, possibly twice as much by some estimates.  Many families are living overcrowded conditions in homes that are just too small and over a quarter of tenants are on the council’s transfer list, trying to move away.

Around 18 months ago we started working with residents to look at all the potential solutions.  We wanted to work together to see how, despite huge cuts to council budgets, we could provide residents with better homes that they’ve waited too long for.  Nobody underestimates how difficult and stressful that uncertainty has been, or how disruptive estate regeneration can be for residents.  But the last 18 months have meant that every option has been robustly checked and challenged and it means we can say with absolute confidence that having looked at all options that the best outcome for the residents of Central Hill is for the estate to be fully rebuilt to a higher standard.


Local councillors Jennifer Brathwaite, Luke Murphy and Matthew Bennett on the Central Hill estate

In Lambeth we’re committed to controlling the estate regeneration process and ensuring it is a better and fairer than elsewhere.  There is:

  • no private developer involved
  • no sale of land and
  • no handing over of homes to a separate housing association.

We’ve also worked with tenants and leaseholders on a set of ‘Key Guarantees’, which explain the council’s offer to anyone affected by estate regeneration.

We guarantee that all tenants can:

  • stay on the new estate, getting more bedrooms if they’re currently overcrowded, in a home with a lifetime tenancy at council rent levels; or
  • take the highest priority on the housing allocation system and choose another council home in Lambeth with a secure tenancy.

We guarantee that resident homeowners will:

  • have their homes independently valued, getting an extra 10% on top of the value and be compensated for any expenses;
  • have the option to buy a home on the new estate which they will own outright or take up one of the shared ownership arrangements (depending on their circumstances); or
  • be provided a rented home at a rent they can afford if homeownership isn’t feasible anymore.

The Key Guarantees mean nobody has to leave Central Hill who wants to stay and everyone can have a new home on the rebuilt estate.

Rebuilding also means we can increase the number of homes for council rent.  London faces a social housing shortage but in Lambeth we’re building 1000 extra homes at council level rents to help some of the thousands of people on our waiting list.

Hundreds of additional council level rent homes are already planned on other estates in Lambeth, as well as on brownfield sites like Somerleyton Road.  New council rent level homes have already been built at St. Oswald’s Place and Akerman Road.  Unlike with other regeneration schemes, in Lambeth we are increasing social housing and investing in the future of our community.

The new homes will also be larger; with higher environmental and energy-efficiency credentials; and built to Lifetime Homes standard, so that people can stay in their homes if they have mobility problems.  We will also design bespoke homes for residents with disabilities, so they can stay living in their community, in a home built to meet their exact needs.

The consultation runs until mid-November, giving everyone on the estate a chance to share their views on the proposals, as well as the offers set out in the Key Guarantees.  It will also allow enough time for the council to listen to what’s being said and respond to any concerns before a decision is made.

We know that proposing to rebuild the estate makes this is a difficult and potentially distressing time for residents.  But we can’t pretend there’s no problem with the condition of residents’ homes, we can’t ignore the best solution and it would be unfair and irresponsible to promise refurbishment when we know we can’t deliver it.  

Cllr Matthew Bennett

The Future of the Central Hill Estate

Local ward councillor and Cabinet Member for Housing Matthew Bennett blogs on the future of the Central Hill Estate in Gipsy Hill

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