Housing and the Social Economy


Housing construction is the most blatant example of how social engagement can be an onerous duty for some businesses. The 35% affordable housing debate is still raging and it’s obvious that property developers would do without it all together. Some go as far as preferring to make multi-million in-lieu payments instead of providing affordable housing.

Just this week, we’ve heard about negotiations between Newham Council and Galliard Homes where “Just 51 units — six per cent — will be “affordable”, […] but there is no mention of social housing in the application.” Says the Standard.

Newham Council, one of the most deprived in London, has guidelines stating that up to 50% of any new development should consist of affordable and social housing. Yet the developer went ahead with a proposal including a meagre 6% affordable homes. The developers seem to hold the power as Sir Robin Wales, Labour mayor of Newham, commented “The developers need to drastically rethink this ridiculous offer.”

As some developers seem to be more than happy to sell all their stock to wealthy overseas residents, mayors and councils should have the power to enforce their guidelines and reject proposals that don’t meet the requirements.

We are yet to see who will be have the upper hand. Either way it is clear that we are a long way away from a CSO view of the world. At least some organisations are. Developers should make profits, and healthy ones too, but this should not be achieved at the expense of local communities. A development of this scale in Newham with no affordable and social housing, would only contribute to the social divide between rich and poor and deny accessible housing to a community much in need of it.

I was pleased to read also this week about the g15 group of London Housing Associations coming together to unveil plans to build 93,000 new homes in London and the south-east by 2025 of which 70% will be affordable.

One step back two forward, for the sharing economy?