Whilst funding restrictions exist councils will need to employ creative solutions to address the housing crisis in H&F
Housing is a subject frequently raised by residents which both the previous Conservative and the current Labour H&F administrations have failed to address. Under the Labour council since 2014 only just over 300 homes have been built.
The high costs, lack of housing supply caused by government failure to invest in new genuinely affordable homes, and councils funding restrictions introduced by the Tory Government are the root causes of the housing crisis.
The Liberal Democrats and Vince Cable have been campaigning to remove the anomaly that stops Local councils from borrowing money to build council houses but free to "speculate" in commercial property.
Whilst these funding restrictions exist councils will need to employ creative solutions to address the issue. “Sweating existing assets” and creative building may help alleviate the issue in the short term.
A study carried out by Liberal Democrats across the UK highlights the shocking number of empty properties. Surprisingly given the value of hosing stock in Hammersmith, there are 330 empty properties. Councils across the UK have failed to use the powers they have to reduce the number of empty properties.
In Barcelona they are developing an online map and register of all vacant properties and rentals in the city as part of the drive to improve the supply of affordable housing.
There are several creative building solutions that have been deployed both in UK and rest of Europe, these include “building up”, “pop-up builds” and “naked builds”.
Apex Airspace has identified 60,000 sites across the capital where the rooftops of existing buildings could be utilised to provide new residential accommodation. The company has already developed one site in Abbey Road Camden creating 800 new homes.
In 2016 in Amsterdam the local council launched a “pop up village” aimed at young people aged between 18 and 28 who earn less than £30,000 a year. 565 prefab units are temporarily based on a disused sports field. The studios are about 23m2 and have their own facilities such as a small kitchen, bathroom and toilet with very affordable rents.
In 2016 Lewisham council launched a very similar scheme containing 24 temporarily units. The factory built modular builds have been located on the site of an old leisure centre that will eventually be used for a mixture of social and private housing and a new school. But with the planning process notoriously complicated and long, the local council decided to put the area to use for temporary homes.
Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign for funding restrictions to be removed and in short term make better use of existing property to address the housing crisis.