London Plan Sub Matter 4b: Access to housing and affordability

Written evidence from the Vauxhall Society
The civic society for the north of Lambeth (from and including Stockwell)and adjacent parts of Wandsworth and Southwark.
20 Albert Square London SW8 1BS

4.4 Do the policies in the draft Plan adequately address the housing needs of all sections of the community, in terms of the type of accommodation and the supply of affordable housing? Is the assessment of London's overall affordable housing needs realistic?
4.5 Should the Plan contain overall and Borough targets for affordable housing provision, and are the proposed 50%/35% figures appropriate? Does the "Three Dragons/Nottingham Trent University" methodology provide an adequate foundation for the approach to the Plan?
4.6 How are the proposed Borough targets for affordable housing to be applied and what mechanisms are available for delivery? Are the proposed policies for requiring affordable housing in all housing developments regardless of size and in mixed u se developments workable?

Section 3A, Policies 3A.4, 3A6-12, 3A14 and paragraphs 3A.21-56 and 3A.60-64, and Table 3A.3

The projections of housing needs rest upon the Plan's view of growth as desirable and likely. The Vauxhall Society questions these assumptions.

We agree with the percentage targets for affordable housing. We disagree with the targets for all housing in Lambeth, which we consider excessive and based on the assumption that there is a greater area that ought to be comprehensively rebuilt than is in fact the case. The Plan speaks of reversing social polarisation, but London is rapidly becoming a place only enjoyable by the young, the fit and the wealthy. While the Plan calls for more accessible services, Lambeth is expected to provide a disproportionate share of London's new housing, and recent housing developments in the borough have mainly been achieved at the expense of schools, libraries and community facilities sold off by the Council.

The proposed areas in North Lambeth are deprived and degraded, but not uniformly. There are pockets of highly desirable excellence and of very expensive housing side by side with run down council estates. The riverside is a potentially very important resource for people who live and work in North Lambeth. There is much about the character of the area that needs to be preserved and improved, or to have mistaken redevelopment put right: for example Lambeth Walk and Spring Gardens. The historic street pattern should be preserved. The Plan should set some ground rules for the kinds of development and/or regeneration that are suitable for particular areas. In a few parts of London comprehensive rebuilding may be right: probably only in deserted wastelands. Here it has to start with and prioritise building on local and nearby communities and the nature and history of the area, rather then starting by planning the physical buildings. It must be done in an analogous way to thoroughly reconstructing the fabric of your house while the whole family continues to live and carry out normal family and social life there. The ground rules should be set with this in mind. Whatever the long term vision, we cannot afford to make extensive wastelands while we regenerate. The social cost is too great, and leads to the enormous financial costs of social disruption and crime

Developments should be a fine grained mix both of public and private residential and of employment and residential and amenities, including open space, encouraging living streets, and that they should connect well with surrounding areas. Single use areas, which are therefore dead and uninviting at night (if business/industrial) or in the day (dormitory areas) have an inherent invitation to crime. Standards should also state that there must be no ghettoes, whether private gated housing or public housing with no ways through them. They should also require that facilities be sited within easy reach of all users There should be no reduction in the facilities per head.

All these considerations may well limit and should limit the amount of housing that can be built.