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Tower Hamlets Housing Strategy

Offices council flats

On 16 May 2016 the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs launched the housing strategy consultation to begin the process of replacing the borough’s housing strategy which expired in 2012. Since 2012 the housing problems facing the borough have grown significantly, with nearly half of households in the borough living in income poverty, and nearly 20,000 people on the housing register.

The shortage of genuinely affordable housing has led to high numbers of homeless families and thousands of families living in overcrowded properties. Those with disabilities and vulnerable people continue to need the council’s assistance, and although our ageing population is relatively small we expect it to grow over the course of the next decade. As a council we have a duty to help this group remain independent within their own homes – or to provide extra care and support where it is needed.

Private landlords now provide more homes than any other sector in Tower Hamlets. Whilst many homes are high quality and well-managed, many are not. And while private renting works well for some, it is increasingly the only option for people who want to rent a home in the social sector - or to buy a home, but can’t save for a deposit because private rents are so high.  Indeed, private rents have become unaffordable for many Tower Hamlets residents.

Part of the housing strategy is about creating more choice for such households, but we also need to ensure that the standards of accommodation for people in private rented housing are good – not only by driving out the bad landlords and agents, but also by supporting “amateur” and small landlords to provide decent, well-managed homes to their tenants.  And though the private rented sector can be insecure, we want to ensure that tenants understand the rights and legal protections they do have. 

In Tower Hamlets there is a wide gap between those with the highest incomes and wealth and those in poverty and need. Whilst we have high value homes and land, there are widespread affordability challenges as a result of socially and economically excluded households.

In advance of the launch of the Strategy the Mayor established a housing policy and affordability commission in December 2015. This reported back to Cabinet in May 2016 (Item 5.4) and helped inform the development of the Housing Strategy.

You can find an outline of the process to adopting the housing strategy, and at the bottom of this page you can find links to the final strategy and accompanying documents.

Key Aims of the Housing Strategy

  • there are housing choices for all sections of our diverse community
  • the homes people live in are in a decent condition, warm, and weather tight
  • the most vulnerable people’s housing needs are met in a fair and inclusive way
  • all homes are in safe, prosperous and thriving areas
  • our response to housing issues is measured and achieves value for money.

First stage consultation

The first stage of consultation ran from May to July 2016, when a draft strategy was produced to help improve housing conditions in the borough, and online and face to face surveys were carried out across the borough.

The four broad themes approach were:

  • more affordable housing, economic growth and regeneration
  • meeting people’s housing needs
  • raising private rented housing standards
  • effective partnership working with residents and stakeholders.

We’re very grateful for the 400+ responses we had to the document and the face to face interviews we undertook and we produced a summary of what people told us.

We listened to residents and read every response received. These responses and comments went towards the final strategy which sought to address the shortage of affordable housing, improve the private rented sector and respond to reforms in the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Second stage consultation

The second stage of the consultation ran from 16 September until 10 October 2016. This saw the publication of an updated draft strategy, combined with the council’s proposals. The council’s proposals took into account the housing concerns raised in the first consultation stage, and sought to provide solutions to addressing the housing shortage. You can view the council’s 33 actions (from page 41).

A housing conference was held in the borough on 1st October, and was attended by over 100 people – many of whom were residents. This conference included break-out sessions where groups discussed the key themes in the draft housing strategy.

We are grateful to the 55 people and organisations that responded to the consultation survey and provided responses. The responses received in the second stage consultation were considered in the final housing strategy and in developing policy responses arising from the action plan.

Next steps

The final strategy went to Cabinet on 1 November 2016, at which stage the latest version of the strategy was published online, prior to going to council for adoption on 5 December 2016.

Housing Strategy 2016-21

Following on from the adoption of the housing strategy, an action panel will be established to monitor the implementation of the 33 actions arising from the strategy document. Below you can find links to the final version of the housing strategy and accompanying documents. 

Daughter strategy documents