Campaign: Retain social housing at Barratt Homes’ Brixton Square

Urban 75, Brixton Buzz and Brixton Blog are partnering to protest against Barratt Homes’ application to water down the provision of social and affordable housing, including the conversion to ‘affordable rent’ tenure of 13 social rent flats, at its new development ‘Brixton Square’, on Coldharbour Lane. Sign our petition here.

While a social rent would be fixed with a secure lifetime tenancy, an ‘affordable’ rent means the tenant would pay roughly 55% of the open market rent for the local area, which is liable to go up over time. As gentrification continues apace in Brixton and property prices rise, this will make it increasingly difficult for low income tenants to live in the town centre. Affordable tenancies are also likely to mean fixed term contracts (rather than longer-term security), after which the rent can be put up again. It is therefore extra important to conserve social rented properties at the heart of Brixton.

Lambeth, if it allows this variation, will set a precedent for other large schemes in central Brixton in the future. Lambeth Council is in danger of allowing the demographics of central Brixton to be changed by allowing a definition of affordability in Section 106 agreements that is not in fact affordable when compared to social rented property.

Permission was originally given to Places for People to build the ‘Brixton Square’ on the basis of having socially rented housing in 2005. Barratt Homes argue that the economic situation has changed so much it is now not possible to fulfill that promise. However, we note that Barratt Homes bought the site in the knowledge of the Section 106 agreement only last year (well after the 2008 crisis) and that in Brixton specifically the housing market is not deflating.

We also urge the council to ensure that the provider of the rented units is a registered social landlord, as is stated in the original Section 106. The Section 106 agreement should not be changed to widen this to include affordable housing providers, which are in effect private, for-profit landlords.

Developers like Barratt Homes claim that developments are less financially viable with social rented units included. Unlike developers, however, we are concerned more for our community than big profits, and we hope this is the case with Lambeth’s planners too.

The reference for this planning application is 12/03393/S106 and can be found on the Lambeth website here. Comments on the planning application can be made until October 26 – they should be your individual comments as that will have more power in the planners’ eyes – and a our petition is here.

Follow and contribute to discussions on the urban75 thread!


  1. […] Like so many of the idle rich, Lawson doesn’t just have one non-job, he has three.  When not prancing around pretending to be some kind of eco-warrior, Bob Lawson is also the Chairman of Barratt Developments PLC.  This organisation have a very different approach to creating healthier and greener places, which mostly involves the use of a bull-dozer.  There have been countless protests against the company who are currently littering the countryside with houses for posh people.  Barratt would rather build on greenbelt land than create green spaces.  They have also been the target of anger for attempting to water down social housing provision.  […]

  2. @ Matthew
    It is delusional to think that coldharbour has no issues. Mark makes some good points. Just look at the crime stats. It needs urgent investment and it needs it now. Lambeth council urgently needs to sort this out and clean up the area. The private sector can really help by investing in good quality housing and social improvements. The council can’t do this alone. Think we should start a petition to encourge more private investment rather than discourage

    • @andy

      Did I say that Brixton , like a lot of inner city areas , has no issues? No I did not. Read my post before using abuse like “delusional”.

      What is the joint U75 and Brixton Blog piece about? Is it about banning developers from Brixton? No, It is about large developments having an element of affordable housing in them as part of the planning agreement. Read the piece properly. Barratts are trying to water down that provision on a site they have already started work on.

      The private sector bottom line is making a profit. Its not there to provide social improvements. What do u think the private sector is? There to do charitable good works? Get real.

      Section 106 agreements are one way to make profit driven large developers provide social improvements. Without these Section 106 agreements they would not do it. And , as here, they argue about it.

      I know people who live in social housing in Brixton and Marks remarks are offensive.

  3. @mark

    How insulting to people who have lived in Brixton all these years. Insulting to say that Brixton could be tagged a “sink estate”.

    I find your comments derogatory and offensive. So social housing tenants neglect there area? What prejudiced rubbish.

  4. Agree with you Mark. I have rented in Brixton for twenty years. I work in a middle manager job in Social Care earning 30k/annum. I cannot afford to live in Brixton anymore unless I share a house or take an overpriced bedsitting room. And no, why should I pay over the odds for minimal living space. I’ve invested in this community, not only as a resident but as a consumer, voter and supporter and am disappointed that I am both unable to afford to live where I choose (Coldharbour Lane for all it’s faults suits me).
    Affordable rent is the way that housing associations are able to maintain their current properties. Social Housing, i.e. council in particular is diminishing because of the excess of the housing market and economics. It started with the sell offs and is appearing in this thinly disguised way of profit for the non-profit sector. So, what can we do about it? I don’t know but I know that myself and many like me are stuck and being pushed out of London. Ghetto time again.

  5. Well put! Agree..Coldharbour badly needs investment. An intimidating part of Brixton that needs to be improved. We should be encouraging other developers to invest…not pushing them away. If that involves incentives, then so be it. Let’s face it…Lambeth Council haven’t got the money to do it…the private sector can inject much needed cash into the area.

  6. I just do not get the logic behind a petition here. For so long this area of Brixton has been a dirty, intimidating, higfh crime zone, neglected by its tenants and council, and quite frankly unapealing to the nth degree to live in. A walk past the betting shop between Brixton Square and Barrington Road would be a good idea if you do not follow me there. The Coldharbour Ward has a ridiculously high percentage of social housing, somewhere in the 70%-80% range if my memory serves me correctly, and this leads to businesses staying away, the inevitable crime associated with high unemployment and poor environment associated with areas of such high social housing concentratiion. The rather derogatory term ‘sink estate’ could well be tagged on the whole area from a purely visual point of view.
    Then finally there is enough momentum to encourage a developer to build homes that might attract a more wealthy buyer or tenant to the area, who may in turn attract more business to attract them to spend their money, which may lead to smartening up of the area and make it less intimidating – better for everyone; ..and there is a petition to ensure that some of that potential is mitigated. This one develpment will not change the area but simply provide some badly needed counter to the current disproportion.
    Unless the absurdly high demographic of social housing in this part of Brixton is changed then there is no hope of creating any momentum for social environmental improvement. Every social environment needs balance, and an injection of the private sector into this area is badly needed to give Coldharbour some balance, away from its poorly negrlected and designed past 30 years.

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