The last ten years has seen a flurry of high-profile, high-density, high-rise developments approved in Southwark - but how have they benefitted the local community? The following table shows a number of major schemes approved (all but one by the current Labour administration) and the number of social rented homes provided in each development.

Neo Bankside Sampson & Ludgate House Elephant One SouthBank Tower Heygate estate
217 Homes
0 Social rent
490 Homes
0 Social rent
646 Homes
0 Social rent
193 Homes
0 Social rent
2704 Homes
82 Social rent
One the Elephant One Blackfriars 251 London Strata Tower The Quill
284 Homes
0 Social rent
274 Homes
0 Social rent
270 Homes
0 Social rent
408 Homes
0 Social rent
119 Homes
0 Social rent
E&C Shopping Centre Wood Dene estate Quebec Quarter (CW) Water Yards (CW) Mulberry Business Park (CW)
979 Homes
116 Social rent
333 Homes
54 Social rent
366 Homes
51 Social rent
1046 Homes
34 Social rent
770 Homes
23 Social rent
360 Tower 18 Blackfriars Rd Shard Trilogy Blackfriars Circus Chambers Wharf
457 Homes
0 Social rent
288 Homes
61 Social rent
148 Homes
11 Social rent
336 Homes
0 Social rent
587 Homes
0 Social rent
240 Camberwell Rd Camberwell Green Tuke St School One Tower Bridge Bermondsey Exchange
164 Homes
18 Social rent
101 Homes
0 Social rent
122 Homes
6 Social rent
356 Homes
0 Social rent
205 Homes
0 Social rent

Total: 11,863 New Homes
Social rented: 456 (3.8%)

Southwark’s planning policy says that 35% of all new homes must be affordable of which 70% must be social rented, except for certain areas such as Elephant & Castle/Camberwell (where the split is 50% social rented/50% shared ownership). Just over half (6135) of the 11,863 homes in the schemes listed above are in areas with a 50/50 tenure split requirement, the remainder require a 70/30 split.

On this basis it can be said that had Southwark stood firm and forced these schemes to comply with policy then it would have secured approximately 2,500 social rented homes in total. In the event it secured just 456. Had it stood firm there would have been 2,000 extra social rented homes available to those on its housing waiting list.

It is fair to say that in a small number of the schemes, developers have provided a ‘commuted sum’ in lieu of providing any affordable housing. However, as pointed out by local news site SE1 these sums are often equal to the price of just one of the penthouse apartments.

It is also fair to say that some of the schemes have provided ‘affordable rent’ instead of social rent, which is anything up to 80% of market rent (approx 500 in total). We have not included these because they are not affordable to the majority of Southwark residents, especially those on the housing waiting list. There also remains a question about whether the small number of social rented units secured at planning approval are actually being provided as such. Our research would suggest otherwise.