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Khan under fire for ‘painfully slow’ housebuilding in capital

2020-02-12T12:24:06+00:00February 12th, 2020|

London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s affordable housing programme has come under fire for the “painfully slow” rate at which houses and flats funded by City Hall are being built. Figures obtained by the London Assembly Tories show that by the end of last year just 12,294 of the 34,515 homes started since the Mayor came to power in May 2016 had been completed. Across the country it typically takes around 18 months to two years from the first work on a new home’s foundations to completion and residents moving in. Yet the data shows that of the 7,416 homes started in 2016/17, the first full year of the Labour Mayor’s first term, more than 1,800 are still not finished. Only 34 and 17% of the homes started in 2017/18 and 2018/19 respectively are now ready to be lived in. Assembly member Andrew Boff AM said: “With the Mayor already failing to build anywhere near the number of homes he promised, this painfully slow progress will come as slap in the face to the countless Londoners who dream of owning their own home. “There can be no doubt that Sadiq Khan’s housing record is now in tatters. “Housebuilding in the capital needs [...]

Kids in care crisis ‘needs a new generation of children’s homes’

2020-02-12T11:53:46+00:00February 12th, 2020|

  Government needs to back its ban on looked-after children being placed into unregulated, semi-independent accommodation with investment in a new generation of children’s homes, Lib-Dem education spokesperson Layla Moran MP has said. At their Spring Conference in York next month, Lib-Dems are due to debate and vote on a set of policies to “rescue” the children’s social care system – including help for councils to build and run more children’s homes themselves as an alternative to unregulated accommodation. “Unregulated accommodation is a useful stepping stone for young people aged 16 and 17 to learn how to live independently. But it’s not where children under 16, or young people with complex needs, should be living. “The Government is right to take tough action, but these proposals don’t address why children are being placed there – the shortage of children’s homes,” said Moran. “Councils are desperate for the cash to ensure that every child who needs a place in residential care has one – but the Conservatives haven’t provided it. “Meanwhile, funding for services to stop children entering care in the first place, like children’s centres and youth services, have been squeezed,” she said. The LGA has warned that unregulated accommodation [...]

Lords question tests commitment to brownfield housing

2020-02-12T11:26:22+00:00February 12th, 2020|

MHCLG expects councils to prioritise brownfield sites to meet local housing need, with greenfield only an option once all others had been “fully explored”. The response to a related question in the Lords sends a strong signal to councils as to where their decision-making priorities should lie. In a written question, Lord Patten asked what assessment MHCLG had made of the case for councils to be given the power to refuse planning permission for new building on greenfield sites until all brownfield sites have been developed. Responding, Viscount Younger referenced the revised National Planning Policy Framework as “making clear” that councils should prioritise brownfield land for development, especially for housing to meet local need. “This is especially the case where they may be considering the release of Green Belt land, which should only occur once all other options, including the use of brownfield sites, have been fully explored,” said Viscount Younger. Where council registers identify an estimated 26,000 hectares of brownfield with potential for around a million new homes, the question of whether to refuse an application affecting greenfield land “must continue to depend on the local authority’s planning policies and all other considerations relevant to that particular case –  [...]

Property agents fined over £100k for letting unsafe, unlicensed HMO

2020-02-11T16:01:36+00:00February 11th, 2020|

A London property agent as been fined for letting an unsafe, unlicensed HMO (house of multiple occupation). A kitchen-diner partitioned to make the two-bed flat, damaged wiring to a washing machine exposed in a bathroom, and inadequate fire alarms and fire escapes were among the faults found, leaving the rogue agents over £100k out of pocket. London’s Highbury Corner Magistrates Court heard how Camden council officers carried out several visits to the King’s Cross address in May last year after it was identified as an unlicensed HMO with numerous safety issues. Evidence outlined how the officers found that the flat’s kitchen-diner had been improperly partitioned to make the two-bed flat a four bedroom property that was home to five residents, damaged wiring to a washing machine was left exposed in the property’s bathroom and both the fire alarms and fire escapes from the property were found to be inadequate. The court found Simple Properties Management Ltd guilty of operating an unlicensed HMO and breaching safety regulations resulting in a £40,000 fine and a £30,000 fine for one of the company’s directors. Simple Properties London Ltd, Simple Properties Management Ltd and the businesses’ corresponding directors were handed £106,000 in fines and [...]

Affordable fall off as Public Land for Housing programme misses 2020 target

2020-02-11T12:00:20+00:00February 11th, 2020|

  Only around 20,000 of over 130,000 new homes planned for sites released under the Government’s Public Land for Housing programme are expected to be affordable. The programme is a key element of the government’s housing ambitions with the aim of releasing enough public sector land for 160,000 homes by the end of March this year. Latest MHCLG data shows the programme has missed its sell off target. A dig down into the data shows that on the 1,370 sites, the planned housing capacity amounts to 178,188 homes. Of these, 145 sites with capacity for 47,158 homes have been excluded from the figures as these sites include private sector land as part of the planning applications. This is because it is not possible to determine how many of the planned affordable homes are to be built on the former public sector land parts of these developments. So, the figures do not reflect performance across the programmes as a whole and report the likely minimum that are expected to be delivered. This means that across the remaining 1,225 sites with a planned capacity for around 131,000 homes just 19,873 are expected to be affordable. Planning documents for each site were reviewed [...]

Nearly 2,000 Help to Buy customers in arrears

2020-02-10T11:00:48+00:00February 10th, 2020|

Nearly 2,000 Help to Buy customers were in arrears as of November last year – but Housing Minister Esther McVey maintained most were ”only one or two payments behind.” The 1,983 figure was secured by Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey through a written Commons question. McVey said the large majority of those in arrears were “only one or two payments behind” with this debt “very largely” reflecting short-term administrative issues with direct debit set-up at the start of the interest fee paying period. Total interest fee arrears of £189,000 at end of November 2019 represent 2.7 per cent of total amounts charged to customer accounts. A regional breakdown revealed the number of customer in arrears by region as:  East Midlands – 221; East of England – 210; London – 103; North East – 174; North West – 352; South East – 270; South West – 182; West Midlands – 230; Yorkshire and the Humber – 241. Healey followed up to ask what assessment MHCLG had made of the reasons why some Help to Buy equity loans had been redeemed – and if estimates had been made of future redemption rates. McVey said that of the 221,362 Help to Buy equity [...]

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