The housing crisis in Redbridge: How do the council say they will help residents?

PUBLISHED: 18:26 20 July 2017 | UPDATED: 18:52 20 July 2017

Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Farah Hussain cuts a ribbon and buries a time capsule at the ground breaking ceremony in Coppice Path with the help of Cllr Joe Hehir

Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Farah Hussain cuts a ribbon and buries a time capsule at the ground breaking ceremony in Coppice Path with the help of Cllr Joe Hehir


An ambitious five-year housing strategy which reveals how Redbridge Council plans to tackle the housing crisis was approved on Monday.

An ambitious five-year housing strategy which reveals how Redbridge Council plans to tackle the housing crisis was approved on Monday.

The 64-page document focuses on how the council plans to reduce homelessness, build more homes, and protect tenants from dodgy landlords.

Council leader Jas Athwal said the authority was determined to tackle the borough’s housing issues and improve the quality and quantity of homes.

He said: “We know that housing has a huge effect on the lives of our residents, which is why we have focused on increasing the number of new homes and reducing the risk of homelessness.”

Between 2001 and 2011, the number of homes privately rented in Redbridge rose by 9.5 percent whilst owner occupation levels decreased by 10.7pc.

At the end of last year, figures showed that there were 8,335 households on the housing register and the majority needed family sized homes.

And of the 2,308 people that were living in temporary accommodation at the end of 2016, 45pc of them had been placed in properties outside the borough.

More than half of the households that became homeless last year had been evicted from their privately rented home.

In order to prevent these evictions, the council says it will move towards a more proactive way of helping residents who are at risk of homelessness.

Over the past year, the council says the housing service prevented homelessness for 1,857 households who approached it for advice and assistance.

Soon, families who are at risk of being evicted will be able seek support through Work Redbridge and be referred for casework with the aim of keeping their home.

Councillor Farah Hussain, cabinet member for housing, said she had been “struck by the sheer scale of the crisis”.

She said: “The council has adopted new approaches and set an ambitious plan to tackle the lack of available and affordable housing.

“Attaining these targets will help improve the choice and opportunities for many more residents.”

Last year, the Recorder spoke to tenants in Hyleford Hostel who complained of overcrowding and mice infestation.

Now the council says that by 2018 no homeless families with children or pregnant women will be placed in bed and breakfast accommodation, unless it’s an emergency, and then only for six week maximum.

But this doesn’t help rough sleepers on Redbridge streets - the number of which surged by 40pc in the past year, meaning the borough has the third highest number across London.

Last year, the Recorder reported on the escalating crisis, as homeless people set up a camp with mattresses behind The Exchange, Ilford, on a busy, polluted street.

The majority of the people recorded sleeping on the streets in the borough have no recourse to public funds, meaning they are not entitled to accommodation.

However, a pioneering project by the Ilford Salvation Army and multiple religious groups could see these people offered beds and a job.

Now Redbridge Council says an “evidence based review” on its response to homelessness will take place over the next year and a new strategy will be drawn up in 2018.

In order to tackle low quality housing, and the demand for more homes, the council’s strategy sets out plans to see 1,000 affordable homes built in the next five years.

The most recent wave of affordable housing started at the beginning of July, at the new Coppice Path development, in Hainault, which will provide nine affordable family homes for rent.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Cllr Hussain told the Recorder that building more affordable homes was a “priority”.

The strategy also reveals more details about the council’s plans to establish its own housing company, which will be used to build homes on council owned sites.

In April last year, Cllr Ross Hatfull told the Recorder that by creating a company, the council could have more control over the quality of housing.

He said: “Instead of selling council-owned land to developers, we want to build the developments ourselves.”

At least 30pc of the houses built on the sites must be “genuinely affordable” alongside a mixture of properties which will be sold at market price or to developers.

Two sites in the borough have been earmarked for potential development - Seven Kings Lorry Park and a site at the junction of Loxford Lane and South Park Drive.

Up to 170 homes could be built on the site in Seven Kings, which is adjacent to the train station, potentially in a “landmark building” up to 10 storeys high, although the document notes that the site is “situated in an area of high flood risk”.

A new public library, primary care facilities, shops, community and leisure sites could also be built.
If plans go ahead to build on the Seven Kings site, the borough’s first Community Land Trust (CLT) homes could finally be built, after a dedicated campaign since 2014 by Redbridge Citizens.

This would mean land on the site could be bought and kept in community ownership, with a number of houses sold or rented at rates linked to the incomes of residents.

In March, Cllr Athwal pledged to build 250 CLT homes in the borough and this marks the first step towards spades in the ground since that announcement.

Captain John Clifton, of Ilford Salvation Army, which is part of the umbrella group Redbridge Citizens, praised the decision.

He said: “It demonstrates what is possible when an alliance of local faith and education organisations builds a relationship of respect and accountability with the council to get things done.”

The strategy also outlines plans on how residents can have their say on the housing allocation scheme - which determines who has a priority for housing and how it is allocated.

In order to ensure the scheme “reflects the most urgent priorities and needs” and “maximises opportunities for housing local households”, Redbridge Council has pledged to review the scheme.

Currently, residents must have lived in the borough for two years in order to qualify, but this rule will be looked at again and a new policy will be introduced next year.

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