Plans to re-develop the Warwick need improving,especially to offer more hope for local people in housing need
It is now only a very few short weeks before you will be asked to vote on Westminster Council's plans for the Warwick estate. After this one vote, there will be a major development of the area, which will have both good points and disadvantages. However, you will not be voting again on the individual parts of the scheme, so I think it is very important to get the best possible deal now.
Having been out speaking to even more residents recently, I remain concerned that many people are still not clear about the plans and what they will mean, nor that the Council is offering the best deal on affordable housing.
• On the one hand, there will be real improvements to the look of the area, with some new low-cost homes, and job opportunities and community benefits
• On the other hand, out of the 290 or so additional homes to be built primarily around the Harrow Road end of the Warwick, the vast majority will be for high-cost private sale, greatly increasing density, and involving around 5-6 years of building work in the area.
I estimate that only about 6 in every 100 households currently living in the Warwick Masterplan area would benefit from new affordable housing opportunities.
I have met with Westminster Council officers again to press the vital importance of making more homes truly affordable to rent and to buy, to help the many people on the Warwick who are in housing need. I have now written to them with a list of key points that have to be dealt with before the vote.
These should include a promise to at least re-house all those Warwick households currently registered as over-crowded. In addition, all the planned ‘intermediate' housing (that costs less than the full ‘market' cost but is dearer than council housing) should have rent levels that are within reach of local people who would benefit from it. At present only half will be available for households with incomes of between
£30-37,000 a year, with the rest aimed at a range of higher earners. With house prices increasing very fast, I am confident that the private home sales should make more profit to put back into increasing the amount of affordable housing, and have asked for further assessments of this.
I have also pressed Westminster on the guaranteed minimum money that will come back into the community for improved local services, and I want to see complete frankness about what the Council can guarantee (such as affordable housing) and what they can ASK for from private companies, without any guarantee (such as a supermarket).
Developments like this can greatly improve an area- but the offer to local people must be a good one.
I continue to welcome your views.
Karen Buck MP