Tower Hamlets and Croydon top new housing league as Lewisham records third worst figures

New houses continue to be built in Tower Hamlets. Pic: Geoff Henson, City of London from Limehouse/ Flickr

More new homes have been built in Tower Hamlets and Croydon than anywhere else in London while Lewisham has the third worst rate, according to newly released Government figures. 

The figures showed that Tower Hamlets came out on top with an 18.6 per cent increase in new homes, with Croydon coming second at 17.7 per cent. Lewisham has only seen a 2.2 per cent increase in new homes.

While both councils have launched ambitious house building plans, in recent years, the skylines of parts of Tower Hamlets have become dominated by high rise developments, often with many flats sold as buy to let, which have caused concern over lack of social housing. Plans have also been lodged for similar new developments in Croydon, such as the 47-story, twin tower high rise in the town centre, providing almost 800 flats. Another 44 story development near East Croydon station was also recently built.

In Tower Hamlets a ten-year plan began in 2015 to implement more housing with a target of 39,314 homes by 2025. Tower Hamlets experienced a population increase from 2001 to 2011 of 254,100.

According to a council document, Tower Hamlets is growing by 3,000 homes a year, making it the quickest-growing borough in London. 

Building new homes has been a priority for Tower Hamlets Council. Pic: Gordon Joly/Wikimedia Commons

Eastlondonlines contacted Tower Hamlets Council, but it declined to comment. 

After a boost in infrastructure, Croydon is transforming into an up-and-coming area and similar to Tower Hamlets, the council is working on a 20-year plan to deliver more houses. The plan would see 32,890 new homes in 20 years.

Croydon has ‘opportunity areas’ where new homes are at the forefront of policy and in 2020/21 and between 2016 and 2021 most residential growth happened in these areas. They also built 2,029 new homes in 2020/21.

Eastlondonlines contacted Croydon council, but it declined to comment.

In 2022, Lewisham council announced the building 1,200 social houses. Lewisham has been identified as one of the areas in the Mayor’s London Plan with potential for 13,500 homes. Since 2019 there have been 1,800 new homes built in Lewisham with 29% affordable.

However, these numbers currently show that Lewisham is underperforming in providing new homes and lagging behind other boroughs. But with the mayor’s plan, Lewisham could accelerate its house-building programme. 

A spokesperson for Lewisham council said: “We are working hard to deliver new homes across the borough, despite the current challenges facing the industry as a whole, including hundreds of new affordable homes for local residents.”

The Conservative Party promised to deliver 300,000 new houses per year by mid-2020s in their manifesto.

Despite this year’s poor numbers in Lewisham, A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities said: “We need to build more homes but the latest figures show that despite the difficult economic climate we are on track to meet the manifesto commitment of delivering one million homes over this Parliament.”

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020 the number of houses built in England rose to the highest number of the century with 248,591 supplied during 2019/20. The numbers fell to 217,754 in the first year of the pandemic.

The numbers show a stagnation in growth when it comes to new homes, in England with 234,397 new homes in 2022 and 2023 compared to 234,462 in the previous year.

Visualization of annual additional homes across England. Chart: Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

The spokesperson insists that enough investment is going into new homes, adding: “Backed by £10 billion investment in housing supply since the start of this Parliament we are making good progress and our long-term housing plan will allow us to go further and build the homes we need.”

The figures are based on local authority estimates of gains and losses each year and are considered the most measured way of analysing supply in England.

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