1,100 affordable homes to be built in Camden
By poppy_smith | Sunday, February 17, 2013, 22:00
A total of 1,100 new affordable homes will be built and building sites and repair works are springing up all over Camden as capital unlocked from land owned by Camden through the Council's ambitious Community Investment Programme (CIP) is reinvested into local schools, housing estates and community facilities.
A self-funded project, CIP was developed following reductions in housing and schools capital by central government from 2010 onwards, and is already underway in many parts of the borough.
Latest figures reveal over 1,650 council tenant's homes have been refurbished in the last year, with a further £178m committed to tackle 13,000 other homes by 2017.
Plus £10m is being spent in this financial year on work to local schools, with a total of £117m planned to make vital repairs to 58 of Camden's schools and children's centres.
A report will seek approval from the Council Cabinet to sell or redevelop a further list of sites and land which are expensive to maintain, or underused, and use the vital money created for homes, school and community building projects across the borough.
Taking advantage of high property prices in central and North London a number of properties will be sold on the open market, while other sites will be redeveloped. In a number of special cases the Council will work with the existing occupiers of properties identified on the list to obtain long leases to help them to secure their future. For example work is currently underway with a Swiss Cottage community youth project The Winch to help them find the best way to secure the building as an asset and to continue their valuable work.
Total investment stimulated in the local economy by this scheme is estimated to exceed £1bn, which will generate jobs and growth in the borough. Contracts signed with construction companies will include local employment clauses as well as apprenticeships.
Camden Council cabinet member for Finance, Councillor Theo Blackwell, said:
"This is not easy. We are contending with cuts of more than £200m from central government to our capital funding, schools and homes in need of vital investment and with welfare benefit changes due to hit us, this is exactly the time when we need to invest in new homes."
"By responding with an alternative to cuts in government funding we are already achieving real improvements to Camden's homes, schools, and community facilities at a time when others aren't spending money.
"This money has to come from somewhere but obviously we don't want this to have a negative effect on the community. We have made a strong commitment to work with the occupiers of buildings and where possible use this as an opportunity to help them look at how they can build and strengthen their future in Camden."
Paul Perkins, Chief Executive of The Winch, designed for a tenant-sale, said:
"The Winch has been working with children and young people in Camden for forty years. In times of austerity we need to work in partnership across sectors to develop innovative approaches which ensure that we can maintain, and where possible, improve, our services.
"We are keen to work with Camden Council to explore how the assets, expertise and opportunities in the borough can be harnessed to deliver greater social impact and sustainability for local organisations and the residents of Camden."