Opposition councillors have called for more ambitious housing targets to help less well-off groups to rent or buy homes.

Members of Barnet Council’s Labour Group called for half of all homes on new developments to be classed as affordable at a meeting of the housing committee on Monday (April 1).

Their comments came during a discussion of the council’s new five-year housing strategy, which includes plans for more than a third (35 per cent) of homes on developments of ten units or more to be affordable.

Cllr Paul Edwards, Labour member for Underhill, said: “By and large there is some good content in here, but from the Labour perspective this is not ambitious enough in relation to targets.”

Labour councillors called for the target to rise to 50 per cent – in line with the Mayor of London’s affordable homes target.

They also proposed setting affordable rent levels at 50 per cent of the market rate rather than the 65 per cent figure outlined in the strategy.

Cllr Edwards said this would allow the council to help people affected by welfare benefit reform and tackle issues such as a rise in child poverty.

But Conservative members defended the targets set out in the five-year plan.

Cllr Dan Thomas, Conservative member for Finchley Church End, said lowering the affordable rent target could affect the council’s ability to boost the housing supply.

He said: “We are reliant on social rents to build more homes. It is all very well people getting lower rents – but then we are getting fewer homes.

“I would love rents and mortgages to be more affordable, but realistically, how are we going to build more homes?”

Cath Shaw, the council’s deputy chief executive, said a lot of the developments provided through the council’s housing arm, Barnet Homes, were 100 per cent affordable.

Housing committee chairman Cllr Gabriel Rozenberg added: “I think the numbers we have put forward are setting a realistic balance.

“I am not sure the proposals you have got here are going to be successful. We would end up with fewer properties, and properties that would not get planning permission.”

The 35 per cent target is considerably higher than the proportion of affordable homes built in 2016-17, which was just over 21 per cent of the total.

But Cllr Ross Houston, Labour member for West Finchley, pointed out that a Labour budget amendment with a 50 per cent affordable homes target had been signed off by the council’s finance chief.

Opposition councillors also called for a borough-wide licensing scheme to crack down on rogue landlords and for the housing strategy to be tied in more closely with other council policies.

The strategy contains plans for a “selective licensing scheme” that targets areas of persistent problems in the private rented sector.

Cllr Rozenberg said the council was taking an “evidence-based approach” to the matter and that showed the licensing scheme contained in the strategy was the right one.

All four of Labour’s amendments to the housing strategy were voted down by Conservative members of the committee.

The original housing strategy was then passed on the back of Conservative support, despite Labour councillors voting against.