Election hopefuls pledge to take on property developers over affordable housing
Candidates at odds over how to provide affordable homes
19 April, 2018 — By Richard Osley
Kate Fairhurst at the CRASH hustings
CONSERVATIVES and Liberal Democrats have told their Labour opponents that they must get tough with property developers, forcing them to provide affordable homes if they want to build in Camden.
Tory election candidate Kate Fairhurst told election hustings in Swiss Cottage, one of the key battlegrounds at the May 3 polls: “I believe we need to really focus on affordable housing, and we believe that all new developments over 10 units should provide a full contribution for affordable housing with no exceptions.”
She added: “I believe everybody has the right to a safe home, but actually Labour’s record on housing isn’t the best. They promised to build over 6,000 new homes in 2014 and since then construction has only started on just 1,700 new homes – so that’s not a good starting point.”
Liberal Democrat candidate Nick Russell told the audience at the Crossfield Centre, in Fairhazel Gardens: “We clearly have a major problem with Camden Council in recent years allowing developers to get off without building social housing. A classic example of this is Liddell Road, on the border between Fortune Green and West Hampstead, where the council owned the land. It closed down a light industrial estate because it said we needed a primary school. That school has now been built and it’s half full.”
He added: “There were housing plans alongside that, to supposedly finance the school. None of them have been built and in any event they didn’t include any proposals on council-owned land for social housing.”
Nick Russell, for the Lib Dems
The hustings last Wednesday were organised by CRASH, the Combined Residents’ Associations of South Hampstead. The ward elected three Conservative councillors four years ago, although Andrew Marshall has since joined the Liberal Democrats. Rival parties see a possibility to gain seats, with the neighbourhood considered one of the bellwether wards from which trends for the wider elections may be traced.
Labour’s Leo Cassarani told the hustings: “Property developers want to get hold of land. They want to build the kind of housing that maximises their profits and they don’t care about our communities. “I completely agree that Camden should be providing homes. There should be social homes. There should be Camden ‘living-rent’ homes. Labour has a record of this, but it’s a very difficult thing to do.”
Labour’s Leo Cassarani
He disputed Ms Fairhurst’s claims about the number of homes Labour had provided, but added: “We cannot borrow. We have a very low borrowing cap and there is an ongoing campaign with central government to allow Camden more money to build housing.”
The Greens declined to appear, the organisers said, while independent candidates said they had not been invited.