Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Public Deputations on matters not otherwise on the agenda

Minutes:

The Mayor agreed to receive a deputation from the ‘Speak Out Woolwich’ group. He advised the speakers that in making their comments they should not refer to specific planning applications, as they were dealt with according to the procedure for planning applications rather than by Council, nor to the petition which had been submitted, and which would be responded to in accordance with the Council procedures.

 

Council was addressed by Kate Heath and Dorota Paluch. They explained they had formed their group because they were angry about planning decisions for the area. They highlighted the problem was lack of social housing in developments, which did not the provisions required in the Council’s Core Strategy. They commented that people could not afford social housing. They recognised the pressure the Council was under but called on the Council to reject applications that did not meet the requirements of the Core Strategy.  

 

Councillor Danny Thorpe, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability, stated that all Councillors shared their frustrations and concerns. He commented that the single biggest cause of homelessness in London was the ending of a private sector tenancy. He said the housing market was broken; and the Council had made the case that they need the tools to deliver and build the homes people need. With regard to the concerns expressed he explained that the Council had introduced stakeholder forums so that residents, groups from across the borough, community societies and developers could all discuss matters. The Royal Borough of Greenwich legally had to comply with viability statements, but Greenwich was one of first councils in the country to make them public.  He noted that there were now 170,000 less council homes since the Conservative Party took office. He highlighted that last year of homes built across the country 84% were by private developers, 14% by housing associations and 1% by local councils. He explained that he had written to the Secretary of State requesting the powers they needed as the Council did not have them. Greenwich was at the top of the Housing Revenue Cap; in the Budget the Government offered to make deals on the matter and Greenwich would pursue that. Greenwich was 1 of only 5 London Boroughs to have delivered over 35% affordable housing across London. In the past three years Greenwich had delivered 1800 new genuinely affordable homes, which was the second highest in London; in contrast neighbouring Bexley was the lowest with less than 100. It was recognised that Woolwich was under pressure from developers who could see an opportunity. But the authority had worked tirelessly with those developments which had come forward to secure the affordable housing they needed, for example, on the Ogilby site 35% of the homes were at social rents, on the Albion pub/Woolwich Church Street site 37 1/2 % were, and at 16 Sandpit Place, a scheme they were delivering with Meridian Housing which was the Council's own company, 100% would be at social rent. He confirmed that it was the Council's wish to work with people, to put people first not developers, to deliver the homes that people needed.