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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

A post in the new Broadwater Farm Facebook Group links to an Evening Standard article about 42 dwellings in a 'pop-up hostel'... 

Reportedly, these new 'pods' in Ilford each cost £47,000 to build. They're for people with 'no access to public funds'. Hard to generalise, but a comparable newbuild around here could cost more than £200,000 (small 1bed).

Meanwhile over in Lewisham, their Council commissioned a leading architecture firm to design a scalable, modular system for temporary homes that can be built in a factory and include retail spaces. These cost almost as much as an 'ordinary' council newbuild but could decrease markedly in price the more built.

Not mentioning Tottenham Hale:

The 'Selby Urban Village' will be 200 new homes, 100 for private sale.

The St Ann's Hospital development will be 930 homes, 332 for private sale

The Broadwater Farm improvement programme will see 178 council homes replaced and could have a bunch of new homes added whilst they're at it, none for private sale afaik. Effectively cross-subsidised by private sales the Council makes elsewhere.

Our very broken housing market does have some scope for Councils to steer their construction partners towards better outcomes for the borough's housing need. I've seen a range of viability proposals in planning applications over the years but none that consider temporary homes worth including around here.

As far as I can tell, over 10,000 families in our borough are in registered housing need. The council aims to build a maximum of 300 new homes per year (the most they can). If they were all used to satisfy the demand, it would take over 30 years to properly house this year's need.

Not forgetting of course rough sleepers and the vast numbers not even able to join the housing list, people the council prevent from registering when they have no realistic chance of a council home. The end of the Covid eviction ban could cause a huge hidden spike in housing need that is hard to quantify so may not get accounted for in housing plans. 

Offsite Construction - is it a vital part of the response?

The idea of building homes in a factory has long been proposed as a good thing, but the homes so far proposed in other Boroughs are only for the most desperate for a home at any cost - why can't we commission factory homes for families that are at least as good if not better than existing new build and build them in a local factory ourselves?

All schemes I've seen contain newbuild but none seem to address the need in order of the housing need - they are poisoned by the need to sell on the open market to offset costs. This leads to a change in the nature of who the sites are designed for.

The method generally adopted seems to be that Councils sell homes on the open market and use the profit to offset the cost of council housing. They rely on a grant from the GLA (who in turn get the grant money from the miserly Tories) of up to £100,000 per dwelling (nothing for temporary social housing). Those grants come with very strict rules to be followed - the London Plan. Effectively to me it seems that Councils build whatever they can get money to build, taking the 'real' decisions out of their hands. It's all about money. We know that building council homes pays for itself 100% and from then on provides an income stream, so it's a very safe investment, but the Government do not, it seems, want to let Councils win.

Although the right tenants have to buy their own council home after living in it for a few years can be circumvented if Councils adopt different models, almost none do. So when you see 'Council Homes at Council Rents' don't forget to add 'up to one third will be converted into private ownership'. Apparently some ex-Council homes end up rented back to the Council at far higher costs than if they'd kept them...

Is this the opportunity to specify that either some private homes or some council homes be instead temporary housing? The new council leader has more or less promised to involve residents in co-design - is there any area of our local lives more important than housing?

Doubtless Council Officers, were they to respond to my diatribe, would provide, as they always do, bullet-proof support for their own decisions, but where is the forum for us as residents to co-design our own borough's housing?

Tags for Forum Posts: Broadwater Farm, Selby Urban Village, St Ann's Hospital, homeless, housing, offsite construction

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