Fire safety laws expected to cause drop in new council homes in Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest is expected to see a dramatic drop in the number of new council homes being built after 2023 due to the cost of new fire safety laws.

Housebuilders claim the cost of meeting new safety regulations introduced after the Grenfell tragedy has forced them to scale back their ambitions.

It is predicted 223 new social rent homes, which are the cheapest homes and exclusively for those on the council’s housing waitlist, will be built in the 2022/23 financial year.

However, the following year, only 52 of the 1,577 new homes planned for Waltham Forest are expected to be this genuinely affordable.

At a meeting of the council’s housing scrutiny committee this week, Councillor Tom Connor said: “There are studies that all seem to be saying we want more social housing.

“Could I ask whether or not we can look at that and see whether that curve can go up and not downwards?”

John Coker, assistant director of housing strategy, said the council could “potentially” enable housing associations or developers to provide “the right amount” of affordable housing.

“But as the report outlines,” he added, “There have been changes in the sector which means particularly big associations are reviewing their priorities.”

Housing associations expect to build 50 – 70 per cent less homes than initially planned because of the “scale” of fire safety works needed on existing buildings.

In the 2023/23 financial year, it is expected that just over half of new homes built will be shared ownership.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter