Are Nesil Caliskan’s Housing Claims Accurate?

On 5th April 2022, Enfield Dispatch reported an interview with Nesil Caliskan, the leader of Enfield Labour, in which Cllr Caliskan made a number of claims about housing in Enfield.

We fact-checked these claims and found a number were misleading. The claims and a summary of the results of our fact checking are set out in the tables below, and further details can be found in the Appendix.

The council will build 3,500 more affordable homes by 2035, 40% of which are set to be family-sized units with three or more bedrooms.
FACT CHECKThis claim appears to be misleading.
According to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request the council is planning to build c.1,770 ‘more’ affordable homes, which includes 500 shared ownership homes, not 3,500 more affordable homes. The FOI response showed that the 3,500 figure includes homes that are not classified as affordable, as well as replacement homes for those the council wants to demolish.
The commitment to 40% of the homes having 3 or more bedrooms has been framed as a positive but is in fact substantially lower than the proportion required by council policy, which is 60%+.
This claim shows that the delivery timeline has increased.
The Council has consistently stated that 3,500 homes would be built by 2030. The leader’s statement confirms that the Council will not meet this delivery date, as the timeline has shifted to 2035. What they said would take 10 years will now take 15.
Cllr Caliskan said her administration was responding to [residents’] concerns over the need for affordable homes
FACT CHECKThe evidence of housing delivery since 2018 does not support this claim.
Since 2018, Enfield has become one of the worst performing boroughs in London for building new homes, including affordable homes. Data available from the GLA shows that more social rent homes have been demolished than built.
Cllr Caliskan said Meridian Water was a 20-year plan that was “updated every single year”
FACT CHECKThe draft Local Plan says something different.
The draft Local Plan states that “Meridian Water is a 25 to 35-year project with a completion date of 2045 to 2055 in the programme currently adopted by the Council’s Cabinet”.
“… we have to renegotiate with the mayor of London to release that strategic industrial land, and that is the right and proper thing to do.”
FACT CHECKYes, the council does have to renegotiate the release of strategic industrial land.
However, Cllr Caliskan’s administration has already had four years to negotiate with the mayor and there appears to have been little progress. Other borough’s, such as Waltham Forest, seem to have taken a more proactive and constructive approach to negotiations about the release of strategic industrial land.
[Nesil Caliskan] claimed building on brownfield sites and small sites would not be enough to meet the borough’s housing target
FACT CHECKThere is evidence to the contrary.
Our analysis of the council’s draft Local Plan has shown that there is sufficient brownfield sites and small sites to meet the borough’s housing target.
The GLA came to similar conclusions and stated in their formal response to the draft Local Plan consultation that “… there appears to be sufficient capacity to meet the required housing target for this local plan without Green Belt sites.”
[In regard to plans to build on the Green Belt] People don’t want skyscrapers. If you don’t want skyscrapers, then you have got to look to build lower-density, family-sized homes with equitable space. So the choice is skyscrapers or nice homes in green space near train stations.”
FACT CHECKThis is misleading rhetoric.
· Implying that the only choice is between skyscrapers or nice homes in green space near train stations is false. There are more options available. (It is creating a false dichotomy)

· There are enough brownfield sites and small sites to meet housing targets without building ‘skyscrapers,’ i.e. buildings of over 150 metres tall.

· Regenerating brownfield sites would create new green space and ‘nice homes’

· Cllr Caliskan suggests homes built on the green belt would be near train stations but most of the green belt sites proposed for development are not near a train station. Notably, both the GLA and Transport for London have raised serious concerns about the lack of access to public transport at these green belt sites. TfL stated that With such a low level of public transport connectivity either current or planned, the development of this area would be likely to be car dependent.”

· Planning policies dictate that land used for housing near a train station would need to be ‘optimised,’ this is likely to mean that relatively few of the homes would be family sized and are far more likely to be 1-2 bedroom flats e.g. see Cockfosters Tube Station proposals.
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