Redbridge second worst in UK for missing target for building new homes

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council, pictured on the roof of Lynton House looking out towar

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council, pictured on the roof of Lynton House looking out towards the town centre. Picture: Andrew Baker/Redbridge Council - Credit: Andrew Baker

Redbridge is ranked second worst in the country for falling short of its government target for building new homes, new figures reveal.

Around 477 homes were built on average each year over the last 10 years for which data was available, from 2007/8 to 2016/17, according to analysis from the BBC’s shared data unit.

This is only 16pc of the government’s estimate of home many new homes need to be created in the borough each year, which stands at 2981, and 21pc of the council’s own assessment of 2286.

This places the borough behind only Kingston Upon Thames for the lowest percentage of homes created relative to those needed out of the 333 local authorities analysed.

The data, provided by the government’s ministry of housing, communities and local government (MHCLG), includes the creation of all new dwellings – from new builds to conversions.

However, the rate of house building in the borough has recently accelerated to levels prior to housing market crash in 2008.

From a record low of 54 homes built in 2015/16, 755 were created in 2016-17.

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Responding to the figures, council leader Jas Athwal said: “We have an ambitious housing vision for the borough and housing delivery is accelerating - in 2016/17 Redbridge achieved around 820 new homes.

“We have committed to building 1,000 new high-quality affordable homes in the next five years and earlier this year we adopted our new local plan to deliver over 17,237 homes over the next 15 years.

“We’ve also established a wholly-owned development company to build new housing in the borough, maximising the use of our own assets.

“We have also launched a development prospectus for Ilford to accelerate delivery of new homes in the town.

“Despite austerity, we are doing our bit to unlock the delivery of new housing in the borough.

“But the government needs to do more to help us realise our ambitions.

“Flexibility on housing finance would be start and we need adequate funding to support social housing developments.”

The method for calculating how many homes are needed within a local authority was set out in the government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which was unveiled last month.

The government does not set concrete house-building targets but rather advises councils to set their own estimates based on their local plans.

Philip Barker, a housing campaigner with Ilford Noise, is critical of both the council and central government.

He said: “Both central government and local councils are complicit in the housing crisis.

“Neither is providing what is needed - building council homes for social rent and controlling rents in the private sector.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “This government is committed to building a housing market fit for the future and 217,000 new homes were delivered in England last year.

“This is up 15pc on the previous year and the highest increase in nine years.

“We have also set out an ambitious programme of reforms to boost housing supply – including planning reform and targeted investment to help us deliver an additional 300,000 properties a year by the mid-2020s.”

But James Prestwich, head of policy at the National Housing Federation, suggests that the government estimate of how many homes are needed is too low.

He said: “The research we have carried out suggests that there is a backlog of about four million homes in England alone, and in order to be able to make up that backlog, we need to be building in the region of somewhere around 340,000 a year.”

He also argued that the government must consider reforming the green belt - which restricts around 37pc of land in Redbridge from developed.

“I’m absolutely not talking about concreting over vast swathes of the English countryside,” he said.

“A more sensible approach [is] proposals around green belt swaps where you build on an area of greenbelt but you then substitute it for another piece of greenbelt land elsewhere.”