Greenwich’s plan to build hundreds of new council homes has been given the go-ahead by City Hall, with the town hall getting a £32.6 million grant from London mayor Sadiq Khan.
The cash is part of a £1.1 billion programme to kickstart council house-building across the capital, and will pay for 588 homes to be built in the borough.
Now the council, which has a scheme to start building 750 new council homes by 2022, is waiting to hear how much it can borrow to build the rest.
Greenwich’s programme, led by cabinet member Chris Kirby, also involves spending £55 million from right-to-buy receipts, while it is also hoping to borrow £145 million.
‘Good quality homes’
Town hall bosses are also waiting on Monday’s Budget, when they are hoping that Chancellor Philip Hammond will lift restrictions on borrowing to build new council homes, the possibility of which was flagged up by Prime Minister Theresa May at the Conservative Party conference.
Kirby said: “Earlier this month we agreed to set ourselves an ambitious housing delivery programme which is one of our key priorities, and the Mayor’s £32m allocation will mean that we can step up our programme to build good quality homes for social rent, which we will start building by 2022.
“We are determined to build even more council homes and are exploring ways of funding this. The £32m Building Homes for Londoners allocation will be a vital step towards accommodating residents’ social housing needs.”
Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe said: “I am delighted that the Mayor of London has allocated £32m to the borough from his Building Council Homes for Londoners programme. This is fantastic news and will help many waiting for much-needed housing in the borough.”
There are currently 17,000 households waiting for council housing in Greenwich, with over 800 homeless households in temporary accommodation – the highest in the past 10 years.
‘Hugely complex crisis’
Khan said: “London’s housing crisis is hugely complex and has been decades in the making. There is no simple fix – but council housing is the most important part of the solution. Londoners need more council homes that they can genuinely afford, and local authorities have a fundamental role to play in getting London building the homes we need for the future.
“Today, City Hall is using money we secured from Government to help councils go much further. It is welcome that the Prime Minister has recently listened to calls that I and others have long made for councils to be able to borrow more to build. But let me be clear: lifting the borrowing cap for councils must be just the first step of reform, not the last.”
Each council has submitted a proposal to City Hall with a list of potential sites, so the sums awarded and numbers of homes vary. Lewisham, which says it wants to begin 1,000 homes, received £37.7 million from City Hall, to cover 384 homes. Neither Bexley nor Bromley applied for money.
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