We all know that the lack of quality; affordable housing is the number one priority issue for our town. Croydon families who are doing the right thing, working hard, tell me it is simply impossible to get onto the housing ladder. Those in the private rented sector are tell me they are increasingly unable to afford their rent and don’t expect to be at the same address in a few years’ time. And our young tell me they fear not being able to put down roots in neighbourhood in which they grew up. So, what are we going to do about it? This in more than just a housing crisis, it is a family crisis, a life crisis that is affecting far too many of our people. Bold action is required.
Setting up a council run housing development company to ensure close to 2000 new homes per year are started in our borough is a great start and increasing the affordable housing requirements to 50% of new homes built is vital too. In addition we got to use the powers of our land lords licensing scheme to hold rogue landlords to account and supporting people with financial; employment and housing advice to prevent increasing problems with affording rents to become a crisis.
To get to the heart of the matter though I believe we’ve got to develop more radical methods for creating genuinely affordable homes. That’s why I’m campaigning and driving plans with our communities to develop a community land trust. This is an approach that can create genuinely and permanently affordable homes by taking the value of land out of the cost of housing.
I also believe we’ve got to do this on a scale that matches the crisis we face. We’ve got to bringing public land into use to create affordable homes and develop new “garden cities” in the Croydon and surrounding area. If the Bakerloo line extension to Croydon or tram extension to Sutton which we’re campaigning for come off, locations along these routes could be ideal.
And with the opportunity to build new, we’d have the opportunity to design genuinely mixed communities, designing out the division that is too often hard wired into the physical reality of our town. This could see us provide a genuine mix of tenures – one third social hosing, plus shared ownership, retirement homes, and opportunities for self-builders too. Schools, health, a quality retail offer and public and green space would also be vital parts of the approach. Taking the community land trust approach we’d also property assets to provide an income stream that could support additional facilities such as youth clubs, cinemas and other cultural facilities. Watch this space for news on progress.
Other ideas I’m going to be taking action on: new local powers to ensure developers build on land they own; setting up a new national housing investment bank and working with small builders to in fill land where large developers won’t. Lastly I think it’s vital we develop the thinking around a “Living Rent” to ensure we can link income and housing
Let me end this piece by saying that whatever the actions of this Tory government, Croydon, I’ll be standing and acting with you so that brick by brick, house by house, we create homes, families and communities with strong foundations; places where people share experiences, where local people rather than the overseas investor benefit and where you can be confident your children will not be priced out of the neighbourhood in which you are bringing them up.