Camden to end 20-year wait with 500 new council homes

An artist's impression of how the regenerated Chester Balmore estate will look.

An artist's impression of how the regenerated Chester Balmore estate will look. - Credit: Archant

Camden will build 500 new council homes – the first new social housing since 1989 – as part of a £330million programme which accounts for six per cent of the UK’s total infrastructure investment.

The plans, part of the council’s budget for the year ahead, were unveiled by finance chief Cllr Theo Blackwell at Monday’s full council meeting.

In addition, Cllr Blackwell announced a budget promising free nursery care for all three and four-year-olds, 240 apprenticeships for Camden’s 16 to 24-year-olds, free Wi-Fi across the borough and council contact points in Post Office branches.

The budget, which received majority approval, also pledged a council tax freeze for the next two years.

In addition to the construction of 500 new council-rented homes over the next five years, there will also be an extra 200 new shared ownership homes and the replacement of 400 current council homes in disrepair.

The Chester Balmore estate regeneration in Highgate will be completed this summer following £11million of investment.

Speaking about the plans under the Community Investment Programme (CIP), Cllr Blackwell told the Ham&High: “It is a major policy of this administration – we were elected because we believe the social mix of the borough should be maintained and protected.”

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He added: “What we have is a very substantial investment in the infrastructure of the borough, which, if you put it against the government’s figures released in the autumn, our investment of £330million is about six per cent [of the national infrastructure investment].”

The CIP, which runs until 2017, aims to generate funds by selling off council-owned buildings at a profit and then re-investing the cash in schools and council housing.

Besides the provision of new social housing, the CIP has set aside £10million to improve a number of primary schools this year.

This regeneration will extend to all 57 primary and secondary schools over the next five years.

The project has a long-term aim of delivering new premises for three schools – the Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children in King’s Cross, Netley Primary in Euston and Kingsgate Primary, West Hampstead.

On Monday, the council’s Conservative group tabled their own budget proposals with a number of amendments to the Labour group’s plans.

These included a two per cent reduction in council tax, funded by a proposal to cut administrative costs and council funding for union posts, but it was not approved.

The Liberal Democrats supported Labour’s council tax freeze but sought amendments, including restoring library hours to 2010 levels.

Councillors also voted to freeze their annual allowances at the current rate of £9,654 for the next year, lower than the basic allowance of £10,597 recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel for London.