Greenwich Council has revealed plans to build another 1,000 council homes by 2029, while refurbishing its 26,000 other homes, at a cost of £800 million.
The programme, which is likely to be at the centre of the Labour manifesto for the next council election on May 5, will be partly financed by £375 million of loans, as well as receipts from right-to-buy sales and grants.
Council leader Danny Thorpe pledged to start work on 750 new homes in four years when he took office in 2018. While only 33 have been completed, the council says it is on track to build 774 homes as part of the first phase of the Greenwich Builds programme, although this total includes 52 still going through a “viability analysis”.
More than half of these will be on the old Thomas Tallis School site in Kidbrooke, where 117 homes were approved in 2020 and a further 322 are due at a planning committee soon.
However, in the same period, the council has lost 501 homes through tenants using their right to buy, a report to be discussed by senior councillors next Thursday reveals.
The locations of the new homes have not been revealed, but the council is likely to continue its policy of using “infill” sites on existing estates – something that proved controversial in Kidbrooke when plans for 80 homes on green space at the Brook Estate were approved a year ago. Greenwich recently confirmed plans build on infill sites at Bliss Crescent in Lewisham, where seven flats are planned, and Congleton Grove in Plumstead, where two houses are proposed.
Greenwich has a 23,000-strong housing waiting list, with 3,100 in priority categories – people who are homeless, have medical needs, face domestic violence or hate crimes, or are in severely overcrowded homes.
The cost of the first phase of the Greenwich Builds programme leapt by 30 per cent to £314 million last year, blamed on Brexit, the pandemic, and the cost of using modular building techniques, where parts of buildings are built offsite and slotted into place.
However, this second phase is more likely to favour traditional techniques, the report says, because they are better suited to small sites.
Grants from London mayor Sadiq Khan and changes in government policy have resulted in a boost to council house building in many London boroughs. While Greenwich committed to have 750 homes under way by 2022, neighbouring Lewisham pushed for 1,000 – although that figure includes housing association homes. Southwark has aimed for 2,500.
While the new council homes are set to cost £400 million, revamping the borough’s existing housing stock will cost the same amount again. Leaseholders will face bills for works on their homes.
It will be the first major work on the borough’s often tatty housing estates since the Labour government’s Decent Homes Programme 20 years ago.
This new scheme will focus on new kitchens and bathrooms, adaptations for disabled people, electrical works and energy efficiency projects – such as new boilers and insulation – to make the council’s housing stock zero carbon.
There will also be new roofs, video entry systems and £19m for environmental works including new play areas, “bicycle sheds, garage refurbishment, car park resurfacing and electric car charging points”.
Councillors on the cabinet, the town hall’s main decision-making body, will discuss the plans next Thursday.
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