Property developers who fail to live up to their affordable housing commitments will be forced to explain why and publicly reveal their profits under new Wandsworth Labour proposals.
Financial viability assessments will be released, without redaction, for local people to see when developers are putting their own interests ahead of the public interest.
The tough new policy comes after Wandsworth Tory council allowed the developer of Battersea Power Station to cut 250 affordable homes.
Last week, Wandsworth Tory councillors agreed to a Labour Motion demanding that developers are made more accountable to the public by making their viability reports as transparent as possible to enable the public “to see for themselves that the developers are contributing their proper share of affordable housing”.
According to Wandsworth Labour Housing Speaker, Paul White: “This is an important step forward, but if Wandsworth Labour take the Council, we would go further by insisting that developers who don’t build the required affordable housing would be made to publish unredacted viability studies to explain why”.
The Motion was brought by Battersea Cllr Aydin Dikerdem who recently presented the Council with a petition signed by over 21,000 people objecting to the Council’s decision to allow the developers at Battersea Power Station to reduce the amount of affordable housing on the site from 15% to just 9%.
Targets laid down by the Mayor of London require developers to deliver 35% affordability on private land and 50% on public land. However viability reports are often used by developers to justify reducing that amount.
According to the Battersea Power Station developer’s viability estimates, the redevelopment could have provided a profit of approximately £1bn if 35% of the housing delivered had been affordable. However the developers argued that this amount of affordable housing – equivalent to 1,375 homes rather than the 386 that will now be built – would have made the regeneration non-viable.
Cllr White added: “The concession made by Tory cllrs last week to make viability reports more open and transparent is an important step that should enable residents to scrutinise the rationale given by developers as to why they can’t provide real affordable housing, making it easier for residents to hold them to account and hopefully harder for Wandsworth Council to capitulate to their demands. But we would go further”.
Cllr White concluded: “Only 8% of Londoners can afford 80% of its housing. By forcing developers to no longer hide behind secret viability reports, we would be able to reverse this trend and provide more genuinely affordable homes for the people of this borough”.