Coronavirus: Islington Council won’t let developers ‘scupper’ social housing delivery

Islingto's director of new build Jed Young and housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward. Picture: Kate Robso

Islingto's director of new build Jed Young and housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward. Picture: Kate Robson - Credit: Archant

Islington’s housing chief says the council won’t allow developers to defer social housing obligations during the coronavirus crisis.

The government issued guidance on Wednesday calling on local authorities to support “small and medium sized developers” by allowing delayed section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) payments.

Both s106 and CIL are conditions attached to planning permission to ensure developments will benefit the area. The former usually pays for affordable housing, while CIL is levied on a wide range of developments, such as roads, green spaces and schools.

But Islington’s housing lead Cllr Diarmaid Ward told the Gazette: “It’s a really bad idea for two reasons. The first and most important reason obviously is the Covid-19 response has just exposed how man people in London live in perilous housing conditions, and we have housed over 100 people into temporary accommodation since the crisis began.

“It’s not just people on the street: you have got people sofa surfing, living with friends, at backpackers hostels. So to do something that scuppers the amount of housing we would build is a complete backward, retrograde step. The whole concept of it is flawed. When this crisis is over we will need to get the economy going again and if it’s just about building private homes the economy will be slow to start. The way to kick start [the economy] is build more council homes not less.”

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The guidance states: “Where the delivery of a planning obligation, such as a financial contribution, is triggered during this period, local authorities are encouraged to consider whether it would be appropriate to allow the developer to defer delivery.”

In the House of Commons on Thursday, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “That does not mean that there will be an impact on social infrastructure or affordable homes in the longer term, but it does mean that small and medium-sized enterprise builders in particular can have a bit of breathing space in the weeks and months ahead.

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