Southwark Council’s start figures have dropped from 684 to 28 last year

Housing starts by Southwark Council have dropped by 96% in the latest financial year, falling to just 28 in 2023/24.

Data shared by Labour-run local authority with the local Liberal Democrat party showed a significant drop on the 684 starts recorded in 2022/23

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Source: Google Maps

Southwark Council has said its starts fell to 28 homes in the 2023/24 financial year due to high inflation and the increased costs of borrowing and supply chains.

Southwark Liberal Democrats also noted that fewer than half (45%) of the council homes started since 2017/2018 have reached completion.

There are currently 17,700 households on Southwark Council’s housing waiting list.

In October last year, the council announced it would need to pause some of its schemes to curb a projected £13.8m deficit in its housing revenue account budget.

The council also cancelled the construction of 25 new council homes on an estate in Borough, stating that it would not have met fire safety requirements.

Kieron Williams, the leader of the council, said that it wouldn’t be possible to fit a second staircase in the 15-storey building due to the site’s ”very tight footprint”, which led to the scheme being scrapped. 

According to a council spokesperson, since May 2022, the local authority has completed 661 new homes, with a further 1,571 homes currently under construction.

The spokesperson added: “We remain committed to delivering our target, set in 2013 and followed the Housing Commission, of 11,000 council homes in Southwark by 2043.

“Due to unforeseen economic circumstances, from late 2022, leading to high levels of inflation and borrowing, and associated increased costs in supply chains, we had to pause a number of planned developments.

”Some work also had to be paused to ensure it complied with new safety regulations. It was a very difficult decision, but not to have so done would have been economically irresponsible on behalf of rent- and council tax-payers.

”This also reflects the situation more broadly where affordable housing starts fell by 90% across the whole of London last year”.

The latest Greater London Authority figures, published on 14 May, showed that between April 2023 and March 2024, building had started on just 2,358 grant-funded affordable homes in the capital, down from 25,658 in the previous year.

Completions also dropped, from 13,954 in 2022/23, to 10,949 in 2023/24. 

In October 2023, the Greater London Authority confirmed that no new affordable homes have been started under the Mayor’s £4bn Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) 2021-26. 

Deputy mayor for housing and residential development, Tom Copley cited “frustrating delays” as a factor that had prevented new homes from being started under the current AHP, which was originally expected to deliver 35,000 homes in London.