21,000 people oppose Wandsworth’s decision to cut 250 affordable homes from Battersea Power Station

At last night’s full council meeting Aydin Dikerdem, Labour councillor for Queenstown ward, handed in petitions signed by more than 21,000 people opposed to the Council’s decision to cut 250 affordable homes from the Battersea Power Station development.

Aydin hands in Battersea petition

Queenstown Cllr Aydin Dikerdem in Wandsworth Town Hall with the 21,000-person petition

Wandsworth Labour also proposed a motion aimed at tackling the increasing housing crisis in Wandsworth.

Speaking about the Council’s Battersea Power Station decision, Paul White, Labour’s Housing Speaker, said:

“local people are angry. In just three weeks over 21,000 people have signed petitions asking the Council to review its decision.”

“The £9bn revamp of Battersea Power Station has slashed the number of affordable flats to just 386, equivalent to a meagre 9% of the development. This is outrageous. Instead of providing a once in a generation opportunity to build much-needed homes for local people, the Battersea Power Development has become a byword for greed and inequality”.

Paul White full council

Wandsworth Housing Speaker, Cllr Paul White

“If Labour takes control of Wandsworth Council next year, things will change. The viability assessments used by developers will be made public, so that residents can judge for themselves whether a development is profitable or not and we will build more affordable, discounted and social housing for the people of Wandsworth”.

motion

Labour’s Housing Motion

Paul White’s full speech to Council:

 

Thank you, Mr Mayor. I, of course, remember the victims of the Grenfell fire this evening.

This motion recognises the real urgency of the housing crisis in Wandsworth, there is not enough affordability here, people are forced to accept housing solutions that do not reach acceptable decency levels, the lack of social and low-cost housing have led to some of the highest rents and house prices in the country and this council allows agreements with developers that prioritise massive profits, investment “money boxes” and easy options to renege on affordability agreements.

The minority group have continually advocated licencing in the private rented sector, to rid Wandsworth of sub-standard and dangerous housing. How is it that it has taken government legislation to extend the House of Multiple Occupation licencing scheme in this borough?

The current 695 licences issued could double with this scheme, but there are 42,000 Private rented households in Wandsworth. We would accept that in Wandsworth there are many good quality private renting Landlords, however is it really only the larger HMOs that private renters are having issues with?

Isn’t it true that some wards in Wandsworth (including my own, Tooting) have larger proportions of low grade, sometimes hazardous private rented housing, and isn’t it true that complaints from residents about conditions, lead to evictions adding to the borough’s homelessness? We mustn’t wait until an incident speeds action, we can extend licencing even further now, as in other London boroughs.

The homeless in temporary accommodation will rise by over 15% next year, with over 2,500 children affected, a truly damning indictment of this council’s housing policy.

As the demand outstrips supply, so even residents that would previously have expected to buy in this borough, are unable to. We now have two MPs who fall into that bracket and a third one soon!

Where are the affordable homes for young people earning £21,000 or under yearly and public and service sector workers maybe earning just slightly more. Public service workers will receive a below the cost of living wage rise and many low and average earners continue to see their salaries stagnate, yet this council just waves through a variation to the £1.8bn profitable Battersea Power Station development, that will mean the very homes that these workers could afford, will be in even shorter supply.

Affordable homes are not high enough in the council’s priorities, priorities that can be summed up as; “Profits for the developers and squeeze everyone else into what’s left”. And of course, let’s not forget the invisible investors who never take up the opportunity to live in their homes and don’t contribute to our community.

What confidence can we have, that developments this council negotiates will deliver the expected outcomes. Will the borough’s Housing Revenue Account ever see the money being spent on the Winstanley/York Road Joint Venture development again? What of the other developments it has agreed? How long before this council has acquiesced to the demands from the developers for entrenched multi-million-pound profits against the housing needs of the people of Wandsworth?

At Nine Elms, the development agreement includes a £26m infrastructure payment towards a bridge to add value to that regeneration. Were the people of North Battersea asked whether they want that or maybe more homes that they or their children could move to?

The good people of the Savona and Patmore estates, covered in dust and muck, seeing this multi-billion-pound development rise and their status fall. Will they see their sons and daughters being able to take up residence there? Well if the Mayor’s affordable targets were adhered to; over 2,500 more affordable homes would be built and would help to alleviate their need and maybe the inconvenience would have been worthwhile.

A Danish company will help with that bridge design and I note 44% of the Danish rented accommodation are social homes, compared with 18% in the UK. As Central Government grant for social (and now) affordable homes build has declined by 80% since 2010, this is hardly going to get better. Danish inspiration in housing as well as bridges please.

We need affordable and social homes now, plus a fairer, more regulated private rented sector so we can have a richer, more harmonised experience, where people are more equal and happier.

Well, we have a party preparing for government that will deliver such an improvement and we also have a council in waiting ready to deliver a more balanced housing policy that will be “For the many and not just the multi-millionaire developers and rogue landlords”.

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