The latest affordable housing data shows that no new Social Rent homes have been built in Enfield for at least two years. Figures also show that the number of newly built ‘London Affordable Rent’ homes fell from 136 to 129.
This bucks the London wide trend which recorded a 25% increase in Social Rent completions and a 47% increase in London Affordable Rent homes.
The data also shows that the number of ‘starts on site’ for new Social Rent and London Affordable Rent homes fell by 41% in Enfield between 2020/21 and 2021/22. Again, this differs from London taken as a whole, which saw ‘starts on site’ for Social Rent and London Affordable Rent homes increase by over 50% on average.
Enfield desperately needs more Social Rent and London Affordable Rent homes because the Borough has one of the highest rates of homelessness and temporary accommodation use in the country, and over 6,000 households waiting for suitable housing. Not delivering the type of homes the Borough needs will mean that thousands of families and children will have to spend years living in unsuitable temporary or private rented accommodation.
The Council’s technical forecasting has calculated that Enfield needs to deliver an additional 711 Social Rent or London Affordable Rent homes per year to meet the Borough’s needs, which is around five times more than the number currently being completed.
Enfield is going backwards.
Over the last two years, more Social Rent homes were sold or demolished in Enfield than were built (i.e. 70 were demolished and 270 were sold). This means the number of genuinely affordable homes available in the Borough has actually declined.
Why is this happening?
One major reason for the lack of Social Rent and London Affordable Rent homes being built in Enfield are the persistent and long delays at the Council’s Meridian Water regeneration scheme; hundreds of additional London Affordable Rent homes should have been built at Meridian Water by now, but none have actually been completed. Recent Council reports warn of further significant delays to come.
Another reason for the lack of new affordable homes is linked to Enfield Council’s failure to take the necessary actions to control Permitted Development office conversions. As a result, some developers were able to avoid delivering any affordable housing on their schemes.
A third issue are the delays in getting applications for new homes through the planning process. A recent Council report noted that the planning team are ‘progressing planning applications more slowly than its customers, residents and businesses expect and deserve’. This is disappointing as there has been considerable investment in the Council’s planning resource over the last few years.
Employment costs for development control have increased considerably.
Importantly, a lack of clarity and transparency has, in our opinion, contributed to the lack of genuinely affordable housing being built. For example, some Council documents which accompany major planning decisions, have conflated Social Rent and London Affordable Rent housing, with other types of housing (e.g. Shared Ownership). This approach is unhelpful because Shared Ownership is unaffordable to many low-income families, including families living in temporary accommodation and those on the housing waiting list.
Mixing Shared Ownership with other more affordable types of housing inflates the overall number of “affordable” homes (it sounds better) but this is unhelpful because it distracts attention from the number of Social Rent or London Affordable Rent homes the scheme would deliver and which families in acute housing need and can afford. The outcome is that completions and ‘starts on site’ of unaffordable Shared Ownership homes have increased in Enfield, whilst the number of genuinely affordable Social Rent and London Affordable Rent homes available has declined.
Affordable housing statistics
Demolitions and Sales of Social Rent Homes
Enfield Local Housing Needs Assessment – 2020
Meridian Water delays 2023 report https://governance.enfield.gov.uk/documents/s96385/PL22.086O_TTSettlementOffer_part1%20-%209%20FEB%2023.pdf https://governance.enfield.gov.uk/documents/s96409/PL%2022.014%20O%20Part%201_PCSAVariations%20-%2010%20FEB%2023.pdf
Permitted Development (examples)
Scrutiny committees thwarted.
Transparency about affordability and use of ‘headline’ numbers