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Westminster and City of London explore new affordable housing plans

The City of London has become the latest borough to reveal an interest in expanding its affordable housing stock outside of its boundaries, as demand for homes continues to rise in the capital.

The local authority owns and manages around 2,000 social and affordable homes in nearby boroughs including Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.

The news comes as Westminster Council published additional proposals to develop affordable housing outside its borders.

Speaking to Construction News, City of London policy and resource committee chairman Mark Boleat said the council was currently exploring a number of options to increase this stock.

It is understood that the new housing would be a mixture of social and affordable homes.

Mr Boleat said options included increasing the density of existing estates through infill or refurbishing existing buildings.

He added that while discussions were at a “very early stage” it was likely the local authority would seek a development partner for the work if the plans went ahead.

Asked whether the demolition of estates was being considered by the local authority, a City of London spokeswoman said “the demolition [of existing estates] is not the direction we want to go in”.

Any plans to increase the housing stock would be subject to a committee process.

Westminster deputy leader Robert Davis told Construction News the cost of providing affordable housing in the borough was “horrendous” and said the council was looking at options to maximise its output.

His comments were backed up by a draft housing strategy released by Westminster Council last week, which set a target to deliver 1,250 affordable homes over the next five years.

The council said it was “constrained by the shortage and high cost of land” in Westminster so it was considering a “cost-effective use of [its] resources” to develop some housing outside of the borough.

In the draft strategy, the council said: “No matter what we do, we will never provide enough homes in Westminster for everyone who wants to live here.

“Even if we meet our target of delivering 250 homes a year, that is still 170 fewer than our housing needs assessment suggests.

“So we need to start thinking about whether some people’s needs can be better met by us helping them to access housing outside Westminster, or even by direct provision by the council of housing outside the city.”

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