Southwark Council confirmed that there are only going to be 8 social rented units on phase 1 of the Heygate redevelopment, a net loss of 97 social rented units on this part of the Heygate site.

A public meeting last Thursday attended by Simon Hughes MP and council leader Peter John also heard that there will be no 1 or 2 bed social rented units. Instead, development partner Lend Lease has substituted 20 so-called ‘affordable rented’ units for social rent. The difference in rent each week is around an extra £88 for a 1-bed flat and £105 for a 2-bed flat, making the total rents £178 and £208 per week respectively.

It could have been worse as Councillor John was at pains to point out. The affordable rent is much favoured by the mayor Boris Johnson; he would like to see rents as high as £220 and £256 per week - 80% market rent. Councillor John said he would try to get 50% market rent from Lend Lease. This would bring it into line with phase 2 and would bring rents down to £137 and £160 per week.

The 8 social rented units will be 3&4 bed homes. About 27 more units of all sizes will be part-buy/part-rent.

To summarise, the phase 1 development will double the density of housing to 235 homes while reducing the social rented element to almost zero. The affordable rented housing isn’t as expensive as it might have been, but will still be too expensive for anybody that needs a council house.

Phase 2 is not much better. 2,400 homes are going to be built on this site. It will also have no one or two bed social rented homes only affordable rent at 50% market rent. The 3 or 4 bed homes will be social rented. It is impossible to tell from the application just how many affordable homes will be either 1 or 2 bed or 3 or 4 bed, hence how many will be social rent or how many will be affordable rent.

Both these planning applications breach Southwark’s affordable housing policy, which requires 35% minimum affordable housing. Southwark justified this on the grounds that its Regeneration Agreement with Lend Lease was going to provide 25% minimum affordable housing, half of which would be social rented. Now we can see that this promise has been broken too.

Councillor Peter John acknowledged the many shortcomings of the application, but couldn’t commit to increasing the number of social rented homes, only to bringing the affordable rent down.

Simon Hughes has since called for the phase 1 planning application to be withdrawn and re-submitted with a revised affordable housing offer.