People forced out of Camden by ‘lack of affordable housing'

Tenants rep: You’re seeing property developers that have got the stronger hand

Tuesday, 13th April 2021 — By Harry Taylor

charlieratchford Image 2021-03-31 at 15.35.46 (2)

The Charlie Ratchford Centre site is being redeveloped

A PRIVATE tenants’ body has said Camden’s current housing policy risks forcing people to live outside the borough, amid a lack of affordable and family homes being approved by the council.

Robert Taylor, from the Camden Federation of Private Tenants, said a development approved a fortnight ago at the Charlie Ratchford Centre – where only 26 flats will be affordable housing out of the planned 115 homes – was part of a process that is putting the area increasingly out of reach to many.

“What it does, over time, is it changes the kind of people who are able to live in these kinds of areas, and for Camden that’s not good. The reason it’s a great place to live is the mix of people you get, but at the moment you are seeing people forced out, or who can’t live where they grew up unless they’ve got money,” he said.

Council officials said the site in Crogsland Road met its 50 per cent affordable housing target, as it was being combined with the new Charlie Ratchford Court across the road, which has 38 affordable care flats provided.

Another large housing scheme nearby was allowed to miss its own target.

In November the planning committee approved a scheme for the redevelopment of the Morrisons site in Chalk Farm to be scaled up to 644 flats, with the majority being for sale on the open market.

There are already concerns about the limited number of homes with two bedrooms or more being approved by the Town Hall, with critics making links to the falling number of applications to schools which have seen the closure of two primaries and reorganisations at secondary school level.

Mr Taylor said there was a risk that the make-up of the borough could be altered dramatically over the next decade as people become unable to afford to live in Camden.

“We saw an information pack by an estate agent in King’s Cross which showed that there was an increase in single people and couples moving into the area, and we see now that if you want to move into these central areas, you would have to have a huge level of income to afford a home, especially with children,” he said.

“It’s not just a Camden issue. We’re seeing exactly the same sort of thing across London, but the council should be doing more to change it.

“You’re seeing property developers that have got the stronger hand and they are the ones who are dictating terms rather than local authorities.”

He added that he was concerned that a lack of social housing meant that vulnerable people were increasingly being housed in the private sector by council officers.

This meant they were often being placed in HMOs (houses of multiple occupancy) by the council, and didn’t get the same levels of support, Mr Taylor said.

A Camden Council spokeswoman said the Town Hall’s approach meant the most vulnerable residents in need of homes are given social housing.

She said creating more affordable housing is a “huge priority” and the controversial Community Investment Programme scheme meant it could use the borough’s high house and land prices to “deliver one of the country’s largest council house building programmes”.

She added: “Genuinely affordable homes are needed to solve the housing crisis and in Camden we are responding by building mixed developments of social housing, Camden Living homes for below market rent and private homes that are helping to maintain Camden’s unique mix of communities and ensuring that the borough remains a place for everyone.”

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