Bromley Council planning 1,000 homes over three years to combat homelessness!
Bromley Council planning 1,000 homes over three years to combat homelessness
By Tom Bull @TomBulllllLocal Democracy Reporter - Bexley, Bromley & Greenwich
Ready-made factory houses are one option Bromley Council is preparing to use as it plans 1,000 homes in three years to combat the capital’s homelessness crisis.
Easily assembled pop-up houses, industry name “modular homes”, are becoming more and more popular with local authorities looking for a quick fix to the housing problems seen across the country.
In Bromley, there is currently an average wait of 42 months for a two-bed house, leaving many families in temporary accommodation that is not particularly temporary.
Councillor Peter Morgan, a cabinet member for housing, told the Local Democracy Reporting service on Tuesday from an example modular home that there needs to be a “will” to build new homes.
He said: “One advantage of this is speed. The cost is more or less the same as bricks and tiles. These can be put up very quickly. If you’re a homeless person, weeks become important. We want them out as quick as we can.
”We plan to build on sites that in the past we might have sold. We plan for about 1,000 homes in the next three years which is quite ambitious, but we can do it if the will is there.
“We don’t plan to build huge sites, most of them will be 10, 20, 30 homes. I don’t believe in creating vast council estates that too often turn into ghettos that are not good for anybody.
“It’s up to us as an authority – people may object as they always do to planning applications, but you have to be slightly hard-hearted because we have to build homes. We have an obligation to do so.”
Modular homes are increasingly popular due to the speed they can be assembled once planning permission is granted – it’s hoped that the first ribbon cutting in Bromley could be within a year, potentially March.
The homes, which can be one or two bed, are up on stilts, accessed via a staircase. They can be terraced or detached, with a kitchen living area on the lower section and a mezzanine upper floor with bedrooms and a bathroom.
Currently, there are 1,600 families in temporary accommodation in the borough. The council is planning to use sites it previously would have sold off to develop 1,000 homes over three years.
Not all the homes will be modular, there are plans to explore more traditional “bricks and mortar” homes as well as redeveloping existing buildings.
Homelessness has risen nationally and locally, with current levels exceeding anything the cabinet member has experienced before.
Sara Bowrey, the council’s housing director, added: “We want to explore innovative methods. It is not a case of one size fits all, developments will be site specific.
“A lot of the problem is affordability. People cannot access the private market. We track the trends of why people come to be homeless – we do a lot of prevention work, but what we are seeing is affordability.
“It’s often families in independent accommodation who cannot sustain the levels of housing costs.
“There will always be a need for temporary accommodation. We want good quality TA with a clear pathway into social housing or private housing.”
The council has acquired 400 homes, some of which is out the borough in the Medway towns, in the last two years in a bid to bring down costs of temporary accommodation.
“The numbers continue to increase sadly, we have no way of knowing whether that trend will continue growing,” Cllr Morgan said.
MORE Petts Wood 'hit and run' victim says crash could have killed school kids
Bromley is one of many London boroughs to take issue with Sadiq Khan’s housing plans for the capital, which would see Bromley have a target of 1,424 units a year.
“All our vacant land is protected green belt or metropolitan open land,” the councillor said. “Even if we wanted to we can’t give permission on that land. We have a problem, we either build up or pinch the green belt. That’s impossible and with building up, no one likes to see tall buildings.
“Even in the town centre it’s not welcome, we don’t want our town centres to look like Lewisham, people like the character of Bromley as it is.”