National and local politicians have two current domestic obsessions – the NHS and the lack of affordable housing. Typically, irrespective of political leaning, none of the major parties have established either a cohesive policy nor can they boast significant success.
The London Borough of Sutton in correspondence about Richmond Green offered their understanding of affordable housing:
Properties will be for affordable rent and some may be intermediate housing which is defined as homes for rent or for sale at a cost below market levels, this can include shared ownership housing where the occupier only purchases up to 35% of the equity and pays rent on the remainder or where the occupier pays an intermediate rent which is less than a market rent. All fall within the definition of affordable housing.
The current administration of the London Borough of Sutton appears to have a confused, multi strand approach. Their management of Council owned housing stock is delegated to one of their “arms length” companies – the Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP). Recently reporting seven figure losses, it is difficult to see what they contribute. Under the separate tab of Richmond Green we can see how they managed to destroy serviceable housing stock, moving tenants immediately into vacant units (why were they vacant?) and leaving properties empty for 5 years. Are they aware of the homeless in Sutton?
Then of course we have another “arms length” set up – originally named Opportunity Sutton, this is a company established to operate in the commercial market. Originally set up to add weight to the residential needs – it has rather been used in commercial acquisition – multi million pound acquisition of OXFAM’s HQ being the largest to date. That is the London Borough of Sutton borrowing money from the Government to develop commercial income – invested, not locally, but in the City of Oxford!
And for those in Hackbridge and on up the London Road, you have the concentration of housing and apartments being built by the like of Barratts, where the traffic confusion has been added to by newly installed traffic lights and where the convenience of Hackbridge Station has been compromised by a potential reduction is services and the impossibility of access – and the new properties are yet to be occupied.
And finally there is the financial carrot being dangled by the Mayor of London for Local Authorities willing to trample local demand for the political ambitions of Greater London – it appears this final point is a key driver for an administration driving revenue ahead of service.
It is a confusing picture – a local authority’s first duty is to its residents – the current administration has under invested in amenity, casually allowing the demise of local theatres, closing library branches and police offices.
Start from some very simple bases – take a look at how many empty properties there are in this Borough – how many of the new homes being built are being bought by residents of Sutton – is help to buy helping Sutton citizens or the bottom line of Barratts?
Understand the scale and you may provide a solution – in Richmond Green, 28 rented houses for the highest growth area in our local population were demolished for 21 homes whose allocation, the London Borough of Sutton are unable to describe.