Council announces review of affordable home building policy

portrait of man
Lord Kerslake

Lambeth council today (18 July) announced a review of its housing policy designed to “boost the delivery of genuinely affordable housing in the borough”.

It will be chaired by Lord Bob Kerslake, who was head of the UK government’s home civil service from December 2011 to September 2014. He sits in the House of Lords as an independent.

The council’s housing policy has come under increasing criticism, particularly plans to demolish and rebuild estates like Cressingham Gardens on Tulse Hill and the performance of its wholly owned private developer, Homes for Lambeth.

Matthew Bennett, who was council cabinet member responsible for planning and development, did not stand in Lambeth local elections in May this year.

Council chief executive Andrew Travers announced in February that he would be standing down.

Lord Kerslake will look at how the borough can “accelerate the delivery of affordable housing”, in particular, homes at social rent that are genuinely affordable for local families on the housing waiting list.

Campaigners recently demonstrated over this issue outside the council’s offices in Brixton.

protest with banners and children

The review will also consider how commitments to improve housing supply made by councillors now running the borough before the May elections can be met alongside the council’s commitments as the first London borough to declare a climate emergency.

Council leader Claire Holland said: “Lambeth council is committed to doing everything possible to tackle Lambeth’s housing crisis – and this review will help Lambeth to accelerate the delivery of genuinely affordable and sustainable homes for those who need them most.

“At a time when many residents are feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis and fear that housing is becoming less affordable and accessible to them, it is vital that we leave no stone unturned to take action more quickly – and I am very grateful that Lord Kerslake will bring his wealth of expertise to the task.”

Lord Kerslake said he was very pleased to be asked to lead the review and looked forward to working with residents, public and private sector partners, and councillors.

Danny Adilypour, cabinet member for sustainable growth and new homes, said: “Lambeth council has built the first new council homes in a generation and has an ambitious programme to deliver even more across the borough.

“However, with so many families in temporary accommodation or in private rented homes that are increasingly unaffordable, we are clear that we need to act more quickly to deliver more homes that will make a difference to tackling the housing crisis.

“This review will build on the important work already delivered by the council and Homes for Lambeth and we look forward to receiving the findings.”

The review will assess existing approaches and developments in the pipeline, and how the council and Homes for Lambeth work with current or potential partners.

It will consider “how the council can ensure that opportunities and delivery across the borough are accelerated and maximised by working with all partners, including the Mayor of London and public sector partners, and reviewing best practice from other local authorities.”

The review is due to be completed by the autumn.

It will take evidence from across the council, from public and private sector partners and from Lambeth residents.

As well as leading the home civil service, Lord Kerslake was the first chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, where he was responsible for promoting new and affordable housing supply.

He is a former chief executive of the London borough of Hounslow and of Sheffield council, and was chair of King’s College Hospital NHS Trust. He resigned in December 2017, saying that the government was “unrealistic about the scale of the challenge facing the NHS and the trust”.

He is also chair of the Peabody Housing Association and Be First, the housing and regeneration body for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

He recently chaired a review for the Mayor of London to increase the speed and scope of housing delivery on land owned by the Greater London Authority.

Lord Kerslake was also chair of the UK2070 Commission, an independent inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the UK.

Further information about the Lambeth review, including its terms of reference, is on the council website.

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