Hoardings and mud or affordable homes? It’s your choice

Alison ButlerCroydon has more than 9,000 families on the waiting list for a home, yet the current council administration is refusing to insist that property developers – among them Conservative party donors – include the levels of social housing in their plans which even London Mayor Boris Johnson requires.

The number of affordable homes built in the borough has fallen by 75 per cent in the last five years. “Things will pick up,” is the best that Dudley Mead, the deputy leader of Croydon’s Tories, can offer.

Here, Mead’s opposite number from the Labour group, ALISON BUTLER, pictured above, outlines her principles for the future

Croydon has a homes crisis and Labour will make tackling this a priority. Because it is Labour that recognises that housing policy is not just about putting a roof over people’s heads. It is about giving our children the best start in life. It is about tackling inequality and poverty, increasing life chances and improving health.

Council-houses-in-Croydon-001The need for a secure and decent home is vital, whether you are an owner-occupier, a council or social housing tenant, in shared ownership or a private tenant. Housing affects your life chances.

If we truly want a town where big business invests and smaller businesses are given the opportunity to start up and grow, then we must provide decent homes to rent and to buy, that are affordable for all.

The National Housing Federation has said that councils need to be tougher with developers.

And we know that around 80 per cent of new housing will be built by big developers and we have already seen that those same developers are turning to overseas investors to secure the funding and in turn, this is expanding the unaffordable private rented sector and stopping local people from getting on the housing ladder.

Councillor Perry dismisses time and time again a call for a higher level of affordable housing in the borough, saying developers will walk away. Yet higher levels of affordable housing are achieved every day by councils right across London who aspire to do what’s right by their residents.

This Tory council does not even encourage developers to increase the proportion of affordable housing that they build and it does nothing to challenge developers who are sitting on land, waiting to make a bigger profit.

Cherry Orchard Gardens: after eight years, no homes have been built on either of side of the road

Cherry Orchard Gardens: after eight years, no homes have been built on either of side of the road

We know that in real terms there has been a reduction in affordable housing completions in Croydon of 75 per cent between 2009 and 2013.

Madam Mayor, do we really want to create a Borough where those on average earnings cannot afford to live? Maybe those sitting opposite do.

However, I do believe that despite his bravado, Councillor Mead is deeply disappointed that nearly eight years after he took up the role of cabinet member for housing there is not one single home on the derelict site of Cherry Orchard Gardens.

And I am sure he regrets the decision to scrap the building of affordable homes and sell our public land to a private developer who has got richer sitting on an empty site.

Because that is the difference a Labour council would make. Those 80 lost homes. Instead of hoardings and mud, there would be children playing in those gardens, there would be parents coming home from work, families who had the opportunity to buy or rent would have cleared their tea and be settling down by the telly. Others would be returning from a night out.

Because Labour’s ambition for Croydon is a Croydon where we can all afford to live, one where every child gets the best education and the streets are clean right across the borough.

  • This is an edited version of a speech delivered by Alison Butler at last Monday’s council meeting at the Town Hall

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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3 Responses to Hoardings and mud or affordable homes? It’s your choice

  1. They really need to sort it out.

    Croydon town centre seems to have been static with hardly any development actually commencing properly for years now, with only a few notable exceptions such as Saffron Square and the appallingly designed footbridge at East Croydon (that has a completely pointless roof that lets in water everywhere).

    Meanwhile, other boroughs have been racing ahead with new housing – including affordable and social housing projects – such as in Southwark and Lewisham. Whilst many do have developers sitting on land, they seem to be doing more about it than Croydon does…

  2. Sadly, there are no new ideas here: just the usual party-political rhetoric.

    For example, there’s no mention of prefabricated building – its cheaper and quicker than conventional construction.
    There’s a good example of a modern prefab in central Croydon: it’s the new YMCA hostel in Sydenham Road.

  3. Social housing for who? The incoming Bulgarians, Romanians, other eastern Europeans, the Somalians, Syrians and all the others. Or for those who actually live in Britain and who cannot afford to buy a house?

    There is no need for affordable homes to be built in the centre of Croydon. Is this about social housing or housing for socialists?

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