BROMLEY HOUSING: POINTS FROM THE REPORT (Seven)

Bromley has 22,000 acres of Green Belt land and the Local Plan is clear that this will not be used for residential development. There are also a large number of Conservation Areas and Areas of Special Residential Character, which restrict the amount of potential development in these locations.

The council say they have reduced the number of empty homes in the borough by half over the last ten years, by working with property owners and offering support and grants to restore properties, in exchange for the right to let them on an affordable rent to households on the Council’s waiting list for a number of years.

Bromley has relatively low levels of deprivation – it is the fourth least deprived of the 33 London boroughs. There is a high employment level, with 78 per cent of 16-64 year olds in employment. Unemployment levels are low, and the borough has the second lowest out of work benefit claimant count in London.

But this does not mean that poverty is not a problem – there are some areas of the borough that rank amongst the most deprived wards in England.

Bromley has a lower proportion of socially rented housing than anywhere else in London – 14pc, compared to an average of 23pc. Home ownership is high in the borough – 73pc housing is privately owned, compared to an average of 50pc across London. Whilst the private rented sector has grown steadily in recent years, it remains relatively small – 14pc of all housing, compared to an average of 27pc across London.

The council transferred ownership of its social housing stock to a housing association, Broomleigh, in 1992.

The stock is now owned by the Clarion Group, the UK’s largest social housing provider. 80pc of the social homes in Bromley are owned and managed by Clarion, with Riverside, Hyde Housing Association, A2 Dominion and Amicus Horizon also having significant amounts of housing stock.

The housing associations work together as the Bromley Federation of Housing Associations to promote social and affordable housing and to maintain a strong and constructive relationship with the council.

The council does its best to monitor conditions and impose minimum standards and has deployed additional resources to visit and monitor accommodation conditions and maintenance standards.

Investing in housing will, in the longer term, reduce the financial demands on the public purse. Having a secure home in a decent condition is pivotal to an individual’s health, safety, educational attainment, employability and mental wellbeing.

Without it, all these are put at severe risk. Residential development also contributes towards the regeneration and prosperity of an area, providing Council Tax income, support for local businesses and contributions towards community facilities. Good housing design enhances the local environment for everyone.

In order to monitor their progress in delivering the targets and actions identified in the strategy, Bromley will adopt 20 key measures (listed on page 25 of the report). Lead officers will report progress against their actions on a quarterly basis.

An update report will be presented to cabinet every six months and a short report will be published annually, to inform the public about progress.

BACKGROUND TO THE REPORT

The introduction to the report says Bromley, like many parts of the country and London, in particular, is experiencing severe affordable housing pressures. Although the borough has managed to deliver slightly above its current target for new homes in recent years, high house prices, increasing rents have meant that the demand for housing dramatically outstrips supply. Homelessness applications are increasing, and the need for affordable homes, particularly those at a social rent, is growing all the time.

We developed this draft strategy first by examining all the evidence of housing need in the borough and looking at what is being done to address it.

We then explored the issues and possible solutions through a number of focus groups and interviews. We talked to local residents, business organisations, housing associations, private landlords and representatives from the voluntary and community sector, as well as council officers from every department and at all levels, from the Chief Executive to frontline staff. We also met with the Portfolio Holder responsible for Housing, to understand the political perspective.

We carried out a survey of residents and looked at data from the Older People’s Housing Needs Survey carried out in 2018.

The draft strategy is now subject to formal consultation with residents and stakeholders. All responses will be considered and used to produce a final version, which will be published in summer 2019 and available on the council’s website.

The purpose of this strategy is to set out what the Council plans to do over the next ten years to address housing pressures in the borough, and provide good quality housing for its residents, both now and in the future.

This Housing Strategy sits within a suite of corporate strategies which set out the Council’s aspirations and plans for Bromley over the coming years.

The overarching strategy for Bromley, ‘Building a Better Bromley’ identifies four key priorities:

 Ensure financial independence and sustainability

 Invest in our businesses and people

 Ambitious for all our children and young people

 Enhance our clean and green borough

The Housing Strategy delivers on all these priorities. Investing in housing will, in the longer term, reduce the financial demands on the public purse. Having a secure home in a decent condition is pivotal to an individual’s health, safety, educational attainment, employability and mental wellbeing. Without it, all these are put at severe risk. Residential development also contributes towards the regeneration and prosperity of an area, providing Council Tax income, support for local businesses and contributions towards community facilities. Good housing design enhances the local environment for everyone.

The Housing Strategy sits alongside key corporate strategies, in particular the Local Plan. These strategies are all inter-related, requiring the successful delivery of all to achieve the Council’s objectives.

The Strategy is supported by a number of documents which support the delivery of the measures identified

The rising population of Bromley means that there is a significant demand for additional homes in the borough. The most recent Strategic Housing Market Assessment for the South East London Boroughs, in 2014, estimated that potentially over 1300 new homes are needed each year.

Although Bromley has comfortably met the target for additional new homes in the London Plan 2016, and expects to continue to do so, the draft for the revised London Plan sets a new target of 1424. The Council has challenged this, but if it remains in place, this will require significantly more effort to achieve.

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