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Grenfell Council Vows to Build Hundreds of Social Homes

Kensington and Chelsea Council is to launch a new social housing building programme as it seeks to make ‘major changes’ to its housing policy in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The local authority – which has been condemned for its response to the June 2017 tragedy – announced it plans to build 300 new social homes to address the shortage of affordable housing in the area. While Grenfell was a tragedy to happen to the council, if it had not happened, the leadership and management of the council housing in the area would not have changed. This tragic event has brought the housing crisis facing Londoners into focus and now, something is going to be done about the state of affordable housing in the capital.
According to a recent ‘discussion paper’, the homes will be designed and built by an in-house team and will be constructed on infill sites, meaning existing council tenants will not be moved out of estates. The house-building programme will be partly funded through the private sale of an additional 300 new homes, as well as a £33.6 million grant from the Greater London Authority. Currently, waiting lists of social housing are excessively long, with housing supply short and unaffordable for those who are able to get onto the register. Affordable housing for the children who have been raised in the Borough is not available and more and more keyworkers are forced to live outside the area. Demand for the construction of affordable social housing is rising year on year, but the supply of these homes is not adequate to keep up with that demand. Kensington & Chelsea council had a housing stock managed by the KCTMO until it was given back to the Council to control following the Grenfell tragedy. The audit of outstanding jobs and repairs reached over 5,000 in its backlog, and since the housing stock has come back under Council control, this has reduced to almost zero outstanding repairs. Kensington and Chelsea Council are on the lookout for newer, more innovative ways of delivering genuinely affordable homes, and there has been a commitment made of no regeneration of the estates. There are enough infill opportunities as well as privately-owned sites in the Borough, which means that several thousand new homes could be delivered without impacting the estates already built. At this time, RBKC are exploring a programme in the order of 300 new council homes to be built alongside another 300 open-market homes. It’s a statement of intent, because building directly is new to the council - but it’s a good start. An application has been made to the GLA for a grant to help to fund the first round of council properties. It’s not a good thing that it took a tragedy such as the fire in Grenfell Tower of July 2017 to make this happen in the council, but it does mean things are being done and people are being heard.

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