This week the Mayor of London announced yet another broken promise, with a reduction in the proportion affordable housing in new developments. During the election campaign the prospective Mayor of London said that he would “set a target for 50% of all new homes in London to be genuinely affordable” but less than a year after coming to power, no less an authority than the Guardian reports that “Sadiq Khan will allow private housebuilders to limit the amount of affordable housing included in new developments to 35%…”
In Greenwich this retreat to 35% will come as a bit of a blow not least as the Council has allowed the level of affordable housing to decline from 33% in 2011/12 to 29% in 2012/13 and 28% in 2013/14 but also as the Deputy Leader of the Council replied to me in an answer in June of this year that:
“This Borough welcomes the new Mayor’s commitment to affordable housing …. this Council will strive to do it all can to provide the homes that people so desperately need.”
Add to that the statement from the GLA Member from Greenwich and Lewisham following the election that the new Mayor would be “More honest than Boris” and the constant retreats on policy starts to look very embarrassing for Labour across the Borough.
But of course the whole Labour approach to housing in Greenwich is filled with hypocrisy. While criticising Boris for failing to deliver enough affordable housing, the Labour Council actually objected to his target for Greenwich in 2009. Indeed, if memory serves, while Ken Livingstone asked all London Boroughs for 50% of housing to be affordable, Greenwich negotiated a level of only 35% which the first Labour Mayor of London objected to. In fact so poor was the previous Labour Mayor’s attempt to influence Greenwich Council that in the last full year of his administration the Borough was reported as only delivering 17% of affordable housing. Similarly in 2010, Shelter reported that only neighbouring Bexley and Bromley were delivering enough affordable homes to meet demand – with Greenwich managing less than half that required.
So while I do appreciate that the new Mayor of London is almost being honest is admitting that his housing pledge was utter nonsense, I fear Labour’s Greenwich Council is going to continue hiding behind the fig leaf of central government policy. The bottom line is that Labour Government or Labour Mayor of London, Conservative Government or Conservative Mayor of London, Greenwich Council fails to deliver a reasonable amount of affordable housing.
This Council’s only consistent policy on housing is to find someone else to blame for failing to deliver enough affordable homes for local residents.