Families needing affordable housing in the borough may have to wait longer after Barnet Council rejected the Mayor of London’s target for new homes.
Boris Johnson scrapped his predecessor Ken Livingstone’s demand that 50 per cent of all new developments are affordable to low-income families, pledging instead to negotiate individual targets with boroughs.
But the council says the Mayor’s target of creating 3,369 units by March 2011 is unrealistic in the economic climate and hopes to haggle the figure down to between 1,135 and 1,700.
There are 13,637 households on the borough’s housing waiting list.
Councillor Lynne Hillan, cabinet member for community services, said: “Barnet has one of the largest regeneration projects in the whole country so will be providing an awful lot of affordable housing.
“But we rely solely on private developers to provide affordable housing and all across the country development plans have come to a full-stop. They can’t borrow money and there is no guarantee they will be able to sell the properties at the end.”
Ross Houston, Labour group spokesman for housing and community engagement, believes the council should be doing more to obtain Homes and Community Agency (HCA) money — England’s funding pot for housing and regeneration.
He said: “It is almost unbelievable that you have a Conservative Mayor setting targets that he thinks are reasonable and the council says it can’t meet them.
“What we should be looking at is improving the ways we access the £5 billion of London HCA funds. Clearly Barnet is well positioned to go to the Mayor and make a case.
“What we need is more emphasis on affordable rent as well as shared ownership.”
One of the developers hardest hit by the credit crunch was Barratt Homes, the council’s partner for the West Hendon and Stonegrove estates.
King’s College economics professor and housing expert Chris Hamnett said it was “no surprise” Barnet had to revise its housing target.
“It is almost impossible that the same number of houses will be built in London over the next three years as were built in 2005 to 2007 as many builders have simply stopped work on new sites.
“I would be very surprised if most boroughs met their affordable housing targets given the severity of the downturn.”