Over 4,000 Affordable Homes 'Go Missing' in Ealing Borough

Greens say Mayor should put pressure on Council to meet assessed need for housing

The Southall Waterside development

A new report by the Green Party on Housing in London claims that over four thousand affordable homes are ‘missing’ in Ealing borough since 2016.

The study authored by Sian Berry AM looks at the assessed need across the capital based on the 2017 Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) which concluded that between 2016 to 2041, developments should be delivering 65 per cent of new homes at affordable tenures. Two thirds of these should be at truly affordable. Already by this measure Ealing is 4,539 short of the homes needed, the fourth highest total in the capital behind only Tower Hamlets, Newham and Barnet.

If looked at relative to the London Plan policy target of 40% which was set by Boris Johnson, since 2016 Ealing borough is 1,871 homes short.

The 153,232 homes that have gained planning permission since January 2016 could have included 61,293 homes defined as affordable if the 40% target was met. Instead, just 27,869 affordable homes have been secured by planning agreements, which means 33,424 missing affordable homes across London in just over two years. The gap between these planning decisions and the need assessed by the SHMA is even bigger, with 71,732 affordable homes missing in two years. With 'affordable' defined by the London Plan at up to 80 per cent of market rents, social housing is often the only truly affordable housing being provided in new developments. Current policy asks for 24 per cent of new homes to be at social rent, but the report found that only 7,451 (less than five per cent) were secured through planning – a shortfall of 29,241.

Sian Berry says, “With a large number of homes being planned across London, missing out on the affordable homes these developments should provide is a continuing betrayal. In just two years people who could fill a small town are being deprived of the chance to rent a home they can afford. I found hundreds of no-show homes in every borough, promised by policy but replaced when developments are signed off by luxury flats no-one on a normal wage could possibly own.

“Every time developments that fail on affordability targets are signed off by councils, Londoners who need homes at reasonable rents lose out. The arguments about the housing crisis usually focus just on building more homes overall – but that isn’t the answer if what is being built ends up as luxury flats beyond reach for most Londoners.”

She urged the Mayor Sadiq Khan to put more pressure on boroughs like Ealing which are handling larger numbers of planning applications, as these are where the most affordable homes are going missing.

The report also looked at whether Mayor Khan's new 'fast track' supplementary planning policy is starting to have an effect. This came into force in August 2017, and offers developers who agree to provide 35 per cent affordable homes a route to planning permission that avoids viability assessments. It concluded this hasn’t yet had a significant impact.

We have asked Ealing Council if they have any response to the conclusions of the report but have not yet received a reply.

September 12, 2018