Report by Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
Enfield Council’s plan to build new homes looks set to slow down because of the coronavirus pandemic and government funding changes, councillors have been told.
The number of ‘affordable’ homes provided by the council is expected to drop from 3,804 to 3,561 and be delivered over a 15-year period instead of ten years. It was revealed in an update to the housing revenue account business plan presented to the finance and performance scrutiny panel earlier this month.
Delivering new affordable homes – partly by regenerating estates – is a key priority for the council, which has around 4,000 households on its housing waiting list.
Speaking at the meeting, council leader Nesil Caliskan said the economic instability caused by the pandemic and the loss of income had put pressure on the council’s finances. But she added that the most significant factor was a government announcement that grant funding would only be available for new council housing. In Enfield, part of the council’s plan involves replacing existing homes on estates such as Joyce Avenue and Snell’s Park in Edmonton.
Cllr Caliskan said: “We are, politically, still very committed to doing that, which is why there is a flurry of activity to recalibrate, if you like, how we can meet those ambitions.”
Joanne Drew, director of housing and regeneration, revealed the changes had led to a £400million reduction in grant funding for the Joyce and Snell’s scheme, which would make regeneration “much, much harder”. The new arrangements would also involve a reduced rent level, which would be “good for residents, good for our affordability agenda, but generates less revenue for the business plan”, she added.
Joanne also said new shared ownership homes would not provide the council with a cross-subsidy for social housing. “We have acute pressures in Enfield and a huge demand for social housing, so we are looking at every way that we can keep that development programme running,” she said.
Cllr Caliskan told the meeting the funding formula could be different in a year’s time, but the council had to plan for the worst-case scenario. She said the council would continue to lobby the Greater London Authority and the government for funding for affordable housing.