Overcrowding in Barnet demands a more “ambitious” housing programme - despite the approval of 27 new homes, according to a councillor.

Social housing landlord Barnet Homes is set to build new flats and houses on disused sites in Tarling Road, Haldane Close, Brent Place and Bedford Road.

It forms part of a wider scheme to build 28,000 new homes by 2025, of which 40 per cent will be designated 'affordable'.

Councillor Ross Houston, a Labour member of Barnet Borough Council's housing committee, told the Times Series: “It’s obviously fantastic we are building new social houses.

“Barnet is the second biggest London borough and other councils have far more ambitious programmes than we do, so we need to step up to the mark.

“The shortage of affordable homes produces a cycle of debt, eviction and homelessness which costs the council more in the long run.”

At the start of the year, the council had overspent £729,000 of its temporary accommodation budget as people were placed out of the borough and into temporary hotels.

Cllr Houston, who represents the West Finchley ward, added: “In this day and age some people can only survive in London because of council housing. It risks becoming a town only the rich can live in.”

Under radical regeneration schemes, dilapidated housing estates, including West Hendon and Grahame Park, are set to be demolished and rebuilt.

Many currently living in those areas will be moved out of the borough they have called home for the past 20 years.

Under current rules, residents are granted tenancies lasting between two and five years, or in certain cases, 12 months to life.

However, members of Barnet Action Housing Group want to see non-secure tenancies abolished from all future contracts.

In April, they protested as Boris Johnson as visited the first three homes to be built in Barnet in 20 years, in Alexandra Road, Muswell Hill.

Janette Ewans, part of the group, said: “We’re not against regeneration but residents who want to stay in their home a few years down the line should be allowed to stay.

“We think a council house should be a home for life.”

Cllr Tom Davey, chairman of the housing committee, criticised the Labour group for failing to come up with a housing plan.

He said: “We plan to deliver affordable homes on under-utilised sites which are self funded, and with the help of residents.

“This is a stark contrast to Labour who say they want more social housing, yet despite being asked in full council and various committees in the past 18 months, have failed to say where a single site would be, how many homes would be there and how it would be funded.

“Cllr Houston has not offered any views on what a more ambitious programme might be – this is standard rhetoric from a Labour group in the final death throes of its current leadership.”