News round-up                                                                                                                              23.06.17


Grenfell Tower

Calls for central govt and councils to evoke measures to by-pass Housing Act to ensure survivors aren’t penalised (e.g. being declared intentionally homeless etc)

Separate calls for central govt to life the borrowing restrictions councils have been operating under to use for implementation of changes re: fire regulations

Govt have announced urgent review of 600 similar tower blocks who use exterior cladding

Blog from LSE on inequality in relation to social housing , and design


Queen’s Speech

As has been widely reported, the government set out a fairly limited legislative agenda, especially considering this is the only Queen’s Speech we will be getting for 2 years. This was true too of housing and homelessness.

However, there was some positive news for renters as the proposal to end lettings fees was formally announced in draft, and a cap is to be introduced on deposits. Summary from the National Landlords Association can be found here and relevant part on the draft Bill below:

“The draft Bill will bring forward proposals to:

  • ban landlords and agents from requiring tenants to make any payments as a condition of their tenancy with the exception of the rent, a capped refundable security deposit, a capped refundable holding deposit and tenant default fees;
  • cap holding deposits at no more than one week’s rent and security deposits at no more than one month’s rent;
  • introduce measures to enforce the ban with provision for tenants to be able to recover unlawfully charged fees.

The ban would apply to England only.

There were also non-legislative proposals surrounding leasehold reform, and trying to make the process of house buying more streamlined and ‘less stressful’.




Rough Sleeping: excellent blog from Beth Watts at Heriot-Watt University on ‘How can we ethically respond to rough sleeping?

Planning: Hastoe Group (a large regional landlord) are urging government to help release more land in rural communities through the planning system

Leasehold Reform: more pressure on government to reform the current leasehold laws which has seen large numbers of people purchasing properties on leasehold basis, only to have their freehold sold to a third party (who then seek to extort maximum profit)

Freeing up vacant property: Ad Hoc property management group use a licencing scheme to help individuals get cheaper property until they are in a position to afford something more permanent (Ed. not entirely sure how this differs from property guardianship which has its critics for providing uncertain tenure for vulnerable/poor…)

Local Housing Allowance: clarity required, and funding maintained, for homelessness providers in light of potential changes to the LHA for supported housing

Mortgage transactions: overall figures are up by 14% year on year despite difficulties elsewhere in the market

Help to Buy scheme: govt released data to show that 285,000 homes sold under help to Buy, including 240,000 first time buyers

Housing Crisis in brief: short article with graphs detailing some of the biggest problems in housing right now



Bristol: short video on homelessness project turning shipping containers in to homes

Cardiff: new 85 flat development for Cardiff bay

Kent: new development in Newington of 124 homes

Powys: council policy implemented to ensure all future homes built come from local timber

Derbyshire: local campaigners have stopped development of 400 homes some 2 miles from Grade 1 Listed building

Cardiff: new development of 23-storey tower given council go-ahead



Canal boats: Quick look at the growing number of people turning to canal boats as alternative to traditional housing

Pod living: to help with the affordability of housing for key workers, Richmond Housing Partnership’s first ‘micro-rental’, off-site manufactured pods have been delivered and put in to place in Teddington, West London – at only 26m2 they contain single bedroom, en-suite bathroom, living room and kitchen area

Battersea Power Station: developer who had promised 636 affordable homes has instead said it will only deliver 386

Good summary here of the argument that Said Khan should intervene, despite his office saying he does not have the power to do so:

Does that new application fall within the scope of Khan’s powers, even if the original one doesn’t?

City Hall says it absolutely, definitely doesn’t. Why? For one thing because the request from the developer to reduce the affordable housing number takes the form of a “deed of variation” to one part of the planning permission already granted and that, says City Hall, is not the same thing as a planning application. Rather, it is a request to change a legal document that has already come into effect.

An On London reader was not convinced by this. In correspondence, he argued that the deed of variation should be regarded as a planning application by both Wandsworth and the mayor, and therefore does fall within scope of Khan’s powers to intervene. He points to provisions added to the Town And Country Planning Act in 2013 relating to modifications to affordable housing requirements set down in what are called Section 106 agreements built in to planning deals and which he thinks, by definition, cover deeds of variation.