Westminster announces first step in its plans to increase the number of truly affordable homes for local people in the heart of the city

  • Commitment to increase delivery of the number of truly affordable homes in the pipeline  by 160 to at least 1,362 council homes for social rent
  • 84 homes previously planned for private sale in regeneration schemes on 300 Harrow Road and Westmead in Westbourne Park will now be council homes
  • Council leads the way giving priority for the delivery of council homes on the council’s own development – a shift from 60:40% split in favour of intermediate rent housing to a 70:30% split in favour of council homes
  • There are more major regeneration projects in the pipeline, which will further increase the council’s affordable housing offer.

Westminster City Council has announced a commitment to deliver at least 1,362 council homes for social rent, as the new administration looks set to implement changes to support local people to live in truly affordable homes in the heart of London.

The pledge, which will maximise the delivery of truly affordable housing, will see an increase of at least 160 new council homes for social rent in addition to the 1,202 council homes already in the council’s housebuilding pipeline.

This increase will begin addressing the waiting list of more than 4,000 households currently registered for council housing and begin to reduce the numbers of families relying on temporary accommodation. The council has set a commitment for affordable provision on all future housing schemes to be mainly council homes for social rent, and for these to be family-sized homes.

The decision taken by the council will also see a rebalance of the previous 60:40 split for the council’s own development in favour of intermediate rent housing to a new 70:30 split in favour of council housing for social rent. The previous expectation stated that 60% of affordable homes would be intermediate housing, with the remaining 40% council housing. The council’s new strategy is to commit strongly to affordable housing, so now 70% of homes will be council housing with the remaining 30% being intermediate for the council’s own delivery.

The delivery of these new, affordable, family-sized homes will be achieved by the proposed change of tenure from market sale and intermediate rent to social rent for upcoming schemes, such as 300 Harrow Road and Westmead in Westbourne Park. The new plans set out that market homes at 300 Harrow Road (60 Homes) and Westmead in Westbourne Park (24 Homes) will now be delivered as completely affordable council housing.  A further additional 18 intermediate rent homes will be delivered across both schemes.

From these two schemes alone, a total of 102 additional genuinely affordable homes will be created and will be a mix of social and intermediate, taking the total number of affordable homes for both schemes to 177. The 100% affordable residential homes will be re-balanced, so that all one bedroom homes, including the studios on 300 Harrow Road, will be intermediate and the homes with at least two bedrooms will be held as council housing for social rent.

The council recently launched its new Fairer Westminster strategy which sets out how the council will work with the local community to support them and tackle inequality, and this new pledge to deliver more social housing aims to build a fairer city for our residents to live in. There are other major regeneration projects in the pipeline still to come, such as Ebury Bridge and Church Street, which will further increase the council’s affordable housing offer.

Cllr Matt Noble, Cabinet Member for Climate Action, Regeneration and Renters at Westminster City Council said:

“As one of the new administration’s first major pledges, in line with our manifesto, we want to show the people of Westminster that we really care about building truly affordable, family-sized homes which meet the needs of our residents and so we can build a fairer city for everyone.

The wait for a family-sized social rent home in Westminster – and across London as a whole – is massive and this new commitment to deliver truly affordable homes, which sees an emphasis on council housing for social rent in the heart of the city, is the first step in a longer pipeline of work to deliver high-quality, family homes for our local people.”

  • These new proposals were set out in a Cabinet Report which was approved at Cabinet on Monday 17 October. Read the full report. 

  • The council is adopting the London Living Rent definition of intermediate and social rent:
    • Intermediate rent offers ‘low cost’ rental accommodation, with rent set at up to 80% of market rent.
    • Social rent is usually rent that is paid to registered providers and local authorities. It is low-cost rent that is set by a government formula. This means it is significantly lower than the rent a tenant would pay in the normal market. Not everyone is eligible for social housing and so the next best alternative could be to aim for a provider that charges ‘affordable rent’ or intermediate rent.

  • With regards to social rent, there are two tenancy options – introductory tenancy and secure tenancy:
    • Introductory tenancy: All new tenants of Westminster Council will be introductory tenants unless they were already a secure or assured tenant of a local authority or registered social landlord at a previous property. An introductory tenancy will last for a trial period of 12 months, after which if you do not break any of the tenancy conditions, you will automatically become a secure tenant. Introductory tenants have fewer rights than secure tenants. You cannot do the following:
      • apply to buy your home
      • vote for a change of landlord
      • sublet part of the property or take in a lodger
      • apply to exchange your tenancy

  • Secure tenancy: If you have had your tenancy for at least 12 months you will normally be a secure tenant. Secure tenants have more rights than introductory tenants. By law, as a secure tenant you have the right to live in your property indefinitely, as long as you keep to these tenancy conditions and your tenancy agreement.

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BDC 311 : Dec 2023