Tough new rules to prevent developers from dodging their affordable housing obligations are set to be agreed by Lambeth’s Labour Cabinet next week.
Lambeth will become one of the first councils in London to force any developer of a major site not meeting the 40% affordable homes target to publish their viability assessment. The information will be publicly available and not redacted.
The new rules are included as part of a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), that makes clear that the council’s starting position is that appraisals should be treated transparently and be available for wider scrutiny, helping to end the damaging perception that deals with developers are done behind closed doors and are not transparent, clear or fair. Developers have been accused of playing the system by underestimating sales values and inflating construction costs to keep projected surpluses low.
The new policy is excellent news for the many thousands of residents on Lambeth’s waiting list. Major developments are a key source of new affordable housing in the borough; in the last year Akerman Road in Brixton, Bedford Road in Clapham and St Agnes Place in Kennington have all delivered at least 40% affordable housing – a total of 158 new homes below market rent. In total, out of 1,010 new additional homes last year, 431 units were affordable – comfortably exceeding Lambeth’s 40% target.
Lambeth’s Labour councillors were elected in 2014 on a pledge to build 1000 extra homes at council rent, alongside a £500m investment in improving our existing council housing. That promise is being delivered : thousands of council homes have been refurbished with new windows, roofs, kitchens and bathrooms and our first new council homes in a generation are complete with local families already moved in.