Lambeth council accepts damning home-building report

portrait of man
Lord Kerslake

Lambeth council has accepted the findings of a report that describes the performance of its wholly owned Homes for Lambeth (HfL) as “very poor”.

The report, by former top civil servant and housing expert Lord Kerslake, says that since the decision to set up HfL in 2017, it has only started building 65 homes.

“Despite securing significant levels of government grant in 2017 through the Mayor’s Affordable Homes Programme, at that time the largest allocation of any London borough, this grant has largely been unclaimed,” the report says.

“Lambeth is one of the lowest performing boroughs in London in terms of delivery against its council housebuilding programme. This is despite Lambeth Council having invested some £30m to date in the set up and running of HfL, as well as providing development funding and meeting the costs of buying out leaseholders,” the report adds.

A substantial part of the brief for HfL was to take forward estate renewal plans for six Lambeth council estates, including Cressingham Gardens in Tulsa Hill which overlooks Brockwell Park. This process began 10 years ago in the case of Cressingham Gardens.

Kerslake says that the net number of additional affordable homes expected to be created through the entire estate renewal programme is only 40 social rented homes.

housing estate in park setting
Cressingham Gardens from Brockwell Park

The review team spoke to residents on the six estates and feedback was “uniformly negative”. Residents spoke of inconsistent approaches, poor communications, delays, lack of consideration, and confusion of responsibilities between HfL and the council. 

Kerslake recommends that the council should acknowledge the shortcomings of its engagement with residents and take a fresh approach to estate renewal in the future.

The report says three estates, Cressingham Gardens, Central Hill in Crystal Palace. and Fenwick in Clapham North, would almost certainly require estate ballots to secure Greater London Authority  funding.

“None have clear, agreed and funded ways forward,’ it adds.

Kerslake recommends “a fundamental reset” to the council’s approach to the three estates and any future renewal, “committing to undertake resident ballots and undertaking genuine engagement with residents on the full range of options for the way forward”.

In its response, to be considered by its cabinet on Monday 5 December, the council agrees it will “reset’ its approach.

Look out for a more detailed report on the Brixton Blog and in the Brixton Bugle.

Read the full Kerslake report

Read Lambeth council’s response