Does Wandsworth lie about its record of affordable housing provision?

Author Cyril Richert

Wandsworth officers in charge of the draft Local Plan write:

“There is a strong record of affordable housing provision in the borough with 885 new affordable homes delivered between 2016/17 and 2018/19.”

For any observant of Wandsworth planning approval in recent years, this statement seems to contradict the general perception of the local trend. Even the Mayor of London seemed to think that Wandsworth was not meeting it’s target on affordability. In 2018, officers told us that, although they were not prepared when this topic was challenged by the Mayor of London to justify approval for the Homebase-Swandon Way scheme, they since double checked figures and found the borough meets its target (in general terms).

Reality is: it’s not true! Wandsworth has missed 4 out of 5 times its global target

The London Plan is setting annual targets for London boroughs. As per Wandsworth Core Strategy 2016: “4.189 The SHMA 2012 identified a shortfall of 942 (58 per cent) affordable/social rent units and 686 (42 per cent) intermediate housing units. Given that this is very close to the London Plan 2015 requirement of 60% social/affordable rent and 40% intermediate, the Council will adopt the London Plan requirement.”

However, for the period 2015/16 to 2019/20, the Council decided that the target should only be nearly the exact opposite: 38% social/affordable rent and 62% intermediate.

More importantly, according to the latest Authority Monitoring Report (AMR) figures show that Wandsworth record on providing affordable housing is very weak.

large_dev_per_tenure

For the purpose of demonstration, we have recalculated the completed housing provision by tenure for Nine Elms (VNEB) and the rest of Wandsworth and compared with the current policy target of 15% affordable in VNEB and 33% in the rest of the borough.

net_completion_outVNEB

net_completion_inVNEB

comparison_target_completed

[1] Target of 40% of total affordable units completed, based on theoretical affordable calculation vs completed with 15% for VNEB and 33% for the rest of the borough, 10 units and more.
[2] Target of 60% of total affordable units completed, based on theoretical affordable calculation vs completed with 15% for VNEB and 33% for the rest of the borough, 10 units and more.
[3] Global theoretical affordable target for Wandsworth borough based on completed units
[4] Percentage of reaching the target.

We used conditional formatting to present in red figures missing the targets and in green when it reaches the target and over.

Wandsworth has missed 4 out of 5 times its global target of Social/Affordable Rent units for the last 5 years (and every single year if we exclude VNEB) as shown in the tables above.

The average net completions on sites outside VNEB with developments of 10 or more dwellings, against Local Plan affordable mix targets, taking into account intermediate, is 25%, considerably below the 33% target[1].

For the whole borough, taking into account VNEB, it is only 20%. We have calculated that, with VNEB lowest percentage, and according to the total completion, it should be around 25%.

As those figures are known from the planners[2], we are surprised they write the opposite in their document.

[1] Core Strategy Adopted March 2016: the level of affordable housing which would be viable on individual sites of 10 plus units (gross) – at least 15% in Nine Elms, 33% in the remainder of the borough.
[2] Core Strategy, p115 (4.183)

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