Hackney’s five-year housing strategy aims to deliver more affordable houses

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville. Pic: Hackney Council

A five-year housing strategy to deliver more affordable housing for low and medium income groups has been approved by the Hackney cabinet.

The Hackney Housing Strategy 2017-22 was approved in the cabinet meeting on Monday after it was put forward by Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville.

The five-year plan will be sent to the full council on January 24 for approval.

The report noted that Hackney is experiencing an “unprecedented housing crisis”. The council is facing challenges due to national government policy, market pressure and changing demands for housing.

Glanville stressed that the council is working hard to address the market failure through its programmes by developing the new housing strategy, without any funding from the central government.

He said: “We won’t stand by passively while a housing crisis limits the opportunities for so many families in Hackney. The steps set out in this Strategy show how we will be a proactive, campaigning council, standing up for our residents to challenge a broken housing system.”

The plan focused on five key themes and recommended 39 action steps to address the housing issues in the borough.

The themes included: building genuinely affordable houses, utilising existing homes, addressing standards and affordability in the private rented sector, tackling housing-related health and supporting needs, and promoting employment.

The strategy also highlighted the importance of delivering affordable housing which would cost less than a third of the gross income of low to medium income households.

It is estimated in the plan that 1,750 affordable houses will be built each year between now and 2033, which equates to 28,000 homes within 16 years, to meet the demand.

Citing the projection by the Great London Authority (GLA), the report noted that the Hackney population was expected to reach over 318,000 by 2031.

The report states that the council will introduce the Mayor’s Housing Challenge funding for housing associations to build new affordable homes.

The council will also set up a wholly-owned housing company to help to provide new “living rent” homes, in which the rent levels are set at one-third of average local incomes.

It will “seek to achieve agreement with the central government on securing the financial freedoms and other flexibilities” that would help it funds additional new homes.

According to the Land Registry, Hackney’s housing affordability is worsening. The average price of a home has increased by over 76 per cent in the last five years. The average price of a flat is around £587,000, making Hackney the most expensive borough in England.

The council plans to fully utilise new and existing homes by developing an agreement with housing associations “to minimise the impact of Right to Buy sales and maximise the like-for-like replacement” of homes sold within the borough.

It will consider ways of giving Hackney residents priority for buying newly built homes. The council will, as stated in the housing strategy plan, “use all empty council homes awaiting demolition on estates undergoing regeneration for temporary accommodation”, unless they are unsuitable.

The council will also “expand the enforcement action against poor conditions in the private rented sector” to improve its management and physical standards. It is to address the standards and affordability in private rented sector.

The report called on the council to lobby central government to ensure letting agent fees charged to tenants are banned in full as soon as possible. This is to empower the council to help private tenants and tackle “rogue” landlords.

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