Southwark’s Labour council has come under fire from one of its own party’s potential candidates for London Mayor for ‘rolling over to developers’ and failing to meet its own affordable housing targets.
At a recent hustings with the six potential Labour mayoral candidates, David Lammy MP attacked the Council for giving planning consent for tall buildings that damage local heritage, for the low levels of affordable housing provided by developers and the number of ‘penthouse suites’ being granted planning permission by the Labour council.
The comments from the London MP have sparked an extraordinary response on Twitter from the Leader of the Council, who has even challenged the MP’s right to criticise Southwark.
The Council has been attacked by community groups, residents forced out by council re-developments and Southwark Liberal Democrats over the past few years for putting developers before people in its regeneration schemes. Concerns have included:
- the frequency with which the Labour council accepts cash payments from developers in lieu of affordable housing.
- the number of times the Council grants planning permission for off-site affordable housing far away from prestigious high-rise or riverside developments, or fails to insist on its own 35% affordable housing target in each development.
- the Council’s interpretation of ‘affordable housing’ and how some developers have changed agreed levels of different housing types unilaterally after planning consent has been given.
- the lack of transparency in deals made between the Council and developers when they agree reduced levels of affordable housing and its impact on profit margins.
Liberal Democrat Regeneration Spokesperson, Councillor Adele Morris, said:
“The reality under Labour in Southwark is that less well-off residents are being priced out of the area, 35% affordable housing targets are not being achieved and new luxury flats for overseas buyers sit empty whilst we have a chronic overall shortage of homes.
"To add insult to injury, the Council is on the side of developers, not residents when it comes to making public its calculations for affordable housing levels in schemes. It has spent months in court fighting residents’ demands to put this information in the public domain.
"Liberal Democrats in Southwark have been saying for years that the Council is rolling over to developers. Now even senior London Labour Party politicians are saying it too.”