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“Homes for Lambeth”: Lambeth’s SPV to build more and better homes

Lambeth Council is to go ahead with an innovative plan to set up a new company to address the failure of the private housing market so that Lambeth can build more homes for local families.

Lambeth’s Cabinet tonight [Mon, 12 October] agreed the proposal to establish “Homes for Lambeth”, a 100% council-owned and run company that will help meet the election pledge to build 1,000 extra homes for council rent.

Lambeth is facing an escalating housing crisis, with 21,000 people on the waiting list for social housing, over 1,850 homeless families and 1,300 families in severely overcrowded accommodation. However, the council’s ability to help meet the growing need is limited by cuts in Government funding and regulations, including the cap on borrowing and Housing Revenue Account funding and restrictions on spending the money from Right to Buy sales.

The proposed special purpose vehicle (SPV) would enable the council to bring in outside money, including from pension funds, to help pay for its ambitious estate regeneration programme – and reinvest surpluses for the benefit of local people. Under normal circumstances, the 15-20% development profit would go to private developers.

A report to Cabinet tonight argued that, in the face of the housing crisis, the Council had “a moral and political imperative to build homes ourselves”. Homes for Lambeth would build on the vision of a mixed-income development at Somerleyton Road, in Brixton, allowing the council to build homes for council rent, intermediate rent and private rent, all with long tenancies and rent stability. The report also pointed out that a number of other councils, including several in London, have used SPVs to deliver new housing schemes.

The meeting also agreed a proposal to redevelop the South Lambeth estate, providing 100 more homes at council rent. South Lambeth is one of six on the council’s estate regeneration programme, which is designed to improve the quality and size of existing homes, and provide new homes to help ease the housing crisis.

After consulting with local residents, Council officers produced a plan to replace low-rise properties on the South Lambeth estate, while retaining Wimborne House. All residents in the low-rise properties, and overcrowded tenants in Wimborne House, would be able to move into new homes on the estate.

Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We need more genuinely affordable homes to help the thousands of families who are homeless or in low-quality, overpriced, overcrowded or temporary accommodation. The private market is not building enough of the homes that Lambeth needs and Housing Associations have found their financial situation undermined by recent changes in legislation.

“Homes for Lambeth will enable the council to step in where the private market is failing, and provide the high-quality, secure homes that are so desperately needed by the people of this borough, including meeting our pledge for 1,000 extra homes at council rent.”

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