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Council-owned developer questioned over lack of family homes

Councillors are concerned that council-owned developer Sixty Bricks is not building enough family homes
By Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor

Less than two percent of new homes currently being built by the council’s own developer will have four bedrooms, new figures reveal.

Conservative councillor Emma Best warned that the borough faces a “ticking time bomb” if more family-sized homes are not built soon.

Housebuilder Sixty Bricks, set up and owned by Waltham Forest Council, plans to build 4000 affordable homes in the borough by 2031.

But figures provided by one of its directors show all but three of the 182 homes in the pipeline so far are smaller flats.  

At a meeting of the council’s growth committee on 18th January, Labour committee chair Marie Pye said: “To be honest I read it and thought it was a typo, so I’m a bit surprised.”

Conservative member Emma Best responded: “I was surprised that there were even three from what I’ve seen on every scheme advertised, so I’m not sure it is a typo, it’s definitely three.

“I think that’s really worrying… That is a ticking time bomb if we continue to ignore the need for four-bed properties in the borough.

“What I’m not willing to do as a committee is to let this go. I personally can’t see a reason why we would only be building that amount.”

There are 24,000 people on the council’s housing waiting list, with a “severe shortage of all sizes of accommodation in the borough” and waiting times measured in years.

Of the 104,000 homes in the borough, 9,500 are council-owned and more than 15,000 are run by housing associations.

The council’s most recent housing strategy report says there are 2,450 affordable homes and 2,000 council houses under construction.

The council’s commercial director of regeneration, Ian Rae, suggested Six Bricks may have more four-bed homes in its “broader pipeline” and that the current schemes are “relatively small”.

Cabinet member for growth Simon Miller said he had not seen the response but that each Sixty Bricks development is “matched against our strategic housing needs”.

He added: “That number does strike me as markedly low, but there may be a good reason given that what Sixty Bricks is building is largely flat accommodation, rather than houses.”

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