‘Use Sadiq Khan’s cash on new housing projects’ says chair of housing panel
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The chair of Camden’s housing committee has told colleagues to “think very carefully” about funnelling £30.8 million from Sadiq Khan for new council homes, into Camden’s Community Investment Programme.
The plan was alluded to at last Thursday’s housing scrutiny committee by Camden’s executive director for supporting communities, Jenny Rowlands.
She said the money would “allow us to bring forward schemes in the pipeline that we have already worked up.”
This was in direct conflict with housing chief, Cllr Meric Apak who had seconds earlier said he wanted it to “fund additional council homes”, if Camden could find the space.
Councillors were emailed at the beginning of this week, and were told the money could be used on part-completed schemes, such as those at Agar Grove, Central Somers Town, and Bacton.
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The projects form part of Camden’s Community Investment Programme (CIP), a 15-year plan to regenerate parts of Camden. It has come under fire for often having less than 18 per cent council homes overall. In one case, Agar Grove will only have 2pc council homes.
However Labour councillor Douglas Beattie, who chairs the housing committee said if the cash is channelled into CIP, then it will show it “can’t stand on its own two feet.”
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“[If so] then it may be time the council looked again at the best possible delivery model for housing,” he said.
Last week Camden Council said the grant from the mayor of London will fund 300 new council homes. It also said the grant has been given on the condition it will be used in the next three years.
Cllr Beattie said: “It’s crucial that every penny is spent on producing extra council homes as this is new money, above and beyond what we had a few days ago.
“This is a golden opportunity. The intention should not be to backfill this money into existing CIP projects. I would ask colleagues to think carefully about what’s best for the borough in the long term.”
Cllr Danny Beales, cabinet member for investing in communities, said: “Sadiq Khan knows he can trust Camden to deliver the council homes we need. He shares our view that these homes are needed now, so by using this new funding for our schemes which already have planning permission, we can get these council homes built quickly and free up other funding to identify and plan for more additional council housing on new sites around the borough.”