Havering has been chastised for not building enough houses or more to the point flats. Most residents in the borough agree we need more houses for residents but fear more tower blocks going up making our borough another concrete jungle.
Today South Hornchurch Councillor Graham Williamson writes in the Havering Daily :
Havering has failed to meet their Housing Targets twice in succession and the consequences are troubling. For example, it means that, until our emerging Local Plan is finally adopted, any rejection of an application is more likely to be won on appeal. In effect a poorer quality development may end up being built than would otherwise be allowed
HOW HAS THIS HAPPENED?
Firstly, the amount of properties given approval over the target period of a rolling three year period is actually significantly greater than those actually built. Whilst there is a building lead time a significant number of approvals have not yet been built as expected.
The reason is that regulations say a developer has three years to start construction and ‘putting a spade’ in the ground’, without doing much else, is sufficient to satisfy that rule. The motive is almost certainly ‘land banking’ i.e. not building until it suits the developer. One example, is in the South of the borough, along the A1306, which was expected to deliver a large proportion of the borough’s housing target over the next few years, but a number of approved developments have still not been built. We believe this is because the developers are waiting for the opening of the, yet unbuilt, Beam Park station. Another reason, is a modern phenomenon of varying their plans post approval in the hope of squeezing in more properties.
The Government has ignored all these delays.
The Housing Targets set for Havering over the target period were not realistic. In 2020, the Government expected the borough to see 3,414 properties built as per the London Plan (only a third actually were). Havering however is, in reality, a ‘small’ borough because 52% of its’ land is Greenbelt which, in effect, cannot be built upon.
Thus our planners are struggling to identify suitable sites for development. This why the targets are unrealistic. Worse still this is seeing new developments being ovedeveloped with ever increasing densities and higher and higher tower blocks. Yet, London’s Mayor wanted our targets to go up by a further 60% and the Government now wants to over double our targets!
This is the fundamental problem which will either continually see us falling short of targets or, alternatively, see parts of Havering replicating inner-London, high rise and high density with insufficient infrastructure too boot.