19 February 2017

New council homes near completion on Akerman Road

As the first council homes to be built in Lambeth in decades near completion,  local councillor Paul Gadsby talks about what the building programme means for residents in the borough ...

A couple of weeks ago Lambeth held a series of open days for residents to look at the first newly built council homes in the borough for more than a decade. It was also the first time that I have been inside the completed buildings and as I went round with residents I was, like them, delighted with what I was seeing.

Located in Vassall in Brixton, the development consists of nine new flats and three new bigger homes available for council level rents in restored Victorian terraced houses. The £1.9 million project is partially funded through money collected from developers elsewhere in Lambeth who have to contribute to the construction of affordable homes when they get planning permission for other projects. These PassivHomes are built to the highest possible standard to make them extremely energy efficient, so they will be low cost for the residents to run and good for the environment, which given the issues we are tackling with pollution in our part of Brixton is good news.

The completion of these homes is a big step forward in Lambeth Labour’s pledge to build 1,000 council homes in the next few years alongside the development of other affordable housing on the market for local residents to buy and rent. As a local councillor, especially one in the Brixton area, one of the top issues I have to deal with is people of all backgrounds looking for affordable housing. At every one of my surgeries in the past six months I have had someone come through the door who is in overcrowded accommodation, struggling with private sector rents or is despondent at the prospect of being able to buy in the local area. Undoubtedly the most difficult is that first group, those who are boxed into inadequate housing, often with large families, and all the problems that brings on a daily basis. It isn’t a matter of simple inconvenience: these conditions damage people’s lives, their health and their child’s upbringing.

Unfortunately, central government has offered nothing but empty promises and half-baked solutions when it comes to addressing the shortage of housing in London. Funding for house building has declined and added to the problem caused by a shortage of available land in places like Lambeth. There are currently 23,000 people on Lambeth’s council home waiting list, with of course many more struggling with rising rents and the impossibility of getting on the housing ladder.

However, despite this lacklustre approach from Westminster, Lambeth is not sitting on its hands and is moving ahead with a programme to expand the pool of housing, like at this site. These are modern, well built homes that will hopefully see residents arriving in the next few weeks. We undoubtedly need the government to wake up and act to give councils greater resources to solve the housing crisis – but at least here in Lambeth we are getting on with the job of building decent homes for our residents.