Another twist to the scale of the housing crisis in London, according to a report in ‘Inside Housing’;
“Development of affordable homes has come to a virtual standstill in London, amid claims councils are obstructing schemes through the planning process.
Figures published on Friday by the Greater London Authority, which funds the affordable homes programme in the capital, showed just 425 affordable homes were started in the first six months of 2012/13.
This compares with 4,659 for the whole of the previous financial year and more than 18,000 in 2010/11.
Of these 425, just 171 were started under the AHP, which allows landlords to charge up to 80 per cent of market rent.
The HCA published figures showing an increase in affordable housing starts nationally from 424 in April to September 2011 to 3,310 for the same period this year, although this is down on the 8,823 starts for the same period in 2010/11.
Referring to the London figures, Keith Exford, chief executive of Affinity Sutton and chair of the G15 group of large housing associations, said: ‘Such a low number of starts and completions is worrying because the housing need in London is increasing’.
Mr Exford said some councils were using their tenure and rent policies, which have to be in place by April 2013, to obstruct new schemes, as under the AHP schemes are expected to reflect council priorities.
He also said the re-opening of section 106 agreements, possible under the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, could pose a threat.
Steve White, chief executive of Hyde Group, warned the need to complete schemes by 2015 had led private companies to charge associations higher land prices, making schemes unviable.
Mr White said: ‘This is an unintended consequence of the guillotine. We have asked for the deadline to be softened.’
Several councils, including Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Harrow and Newham have yet to see any AHP starts since the scheme started in 2011.
A spokesperson for Kensington and Chelsea council said it is ‘extremely difficult’ for it to find sites for affordable housing due to high land values. A spokesperson for Hammersmith & Fulham said the authority plans to build 500 homes on its own land without grant.
The GLA is understood to be arranging meetings with landlords to see if they can still deliver on their AHP programmes. A GLA spokesperson insisted London mayor Boris Johnson’s pledge to build 55,000 new affordable homes in total between 2012 and 2015 will be met.”