Camden Council ‘fails to deliver’ house building programme

Maiden Lane estate in 2010

Maiden Lane estate in 2010 - Credit: Archant

Residents and Camden Conservatives have poured scorn on the council for “failing to deliver” new homes.

Labour-led Camden Council plans to deliver 3,050 new homes in the borough in the 15-year period to 2025 under its Community Investment Programme (CIP). The council’s plans equate to an average of 204 homes a year.

But six years into the programme it has finished just 277 homes.

The council has complained that central government’s Housing and Planning Act and cuts to local authority budgets is putting a strain on its programme.

But residents are furious at the slow progress and the local Conservative party has accused the council of incompetence.

The regeneration of Maiden Lane estate began in 2013 and its regeneration was due to be largely finished this autumn. Not a single home has yet been completed.

The Maiden Lane Tenants and Residents Association (MLTRA) has “severe reservations” about Camden’s management of the scheme. The MLTRA secretary, Deirdre McEvoy, said: “MLTRA really welcomes the CIP programme but has severe reservations about how it is being delivered on our estate.

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“Still no new homes are completed and there is no end in sight for residents who are living with severe disruption, noise and dust seriously affecting our lives on a daily basis.”

But the council remains hopeful it can keep its promises. It said the quality of the scheme and the fact that the programme is spread out across a number of years gives it confidence it can plough ahead as planned in spite of market changes.

Camden Council says it has designed CIP to plug the gap left by £200m worth of cuts to capital funding to the local authority’s budgets.

It plans to raise £300m through CIP by redeveloping or selling buildings or land that are underused or expensive to maintain, and then invest this money back into the borough.

Cllr Oliver Cooper, Camden Conservatives’ housing spokesperson, said the council’s failure to deliver CIP was “just the tip of the iceberg”.

“Camden Council has failed miserably to deliver the homes that residents need,” he said. “In 2014, Labour’s top manifesto promise was to deliver 6,000 new homes.

“Since 2014, fewer than 1,000 homes have been built in Camden.”

“Instead of Camden managing the big developments and construction firms managing the small ones, Camden should focus on the small-scale parts of the programme and leave big builds to those that have experience of delivering them.”

Councillor Phil Jones, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration, transport & planning, said: “Delivering genuinely affordable, and social, housing is a top priority for the council.

“In addition to our self-funded CIP programme, we could do so much more if the government dropped its damaging Housing and Planning Act, restored public subsidy for social housing, and gave councils adequate powers over developers.”