RBWM Property Company urged to deliver 'truly affordable' homes

A company set up by the Royal Borough to help deliver new housing on council-owned land has been urged to focus on homes residents can truly afford.

The RBWM Property Company is responsible for supporting regeneration projects in the borough and operates as the local authority’s own property management and consultancy firm.

Members of the council’s corporate overview and scrutiny panel met on Monday to discuss the vision for the organisation as it aims to create more affordable homes.

Councillor Simon Werner (Lib Dems, Pinkneys Green) told the meeting he wants to see more homes delivered on council-owned sites which are classed as social housing.

The idea behind social housing is it is more affordable than private renting and usually provides a more secure long-term tenancy.

“If we’re really going to be able to house those people with a housing need it needs to be social rents, not the other types of affordable housing where ‘affordable’ is a misnomer.

“It’s completely unaffordable to anyone who isn’t on a massive salary,” Cllr Werner said.

Emma Duncan, deputy director of law and strategy at the Royal Borough, said the council’s property company wants to deliver a range of affordable housing options.

This includes shared ownership and intermediate rent, where tenants are charged 80 per cent of what they would normally pay if the property was owned by a private landlord.

But she added the property company cannot be restricted to just offering properties which are classed as affordable or social rent.

Independent councillor Lynne Jones (WWRA, Old Windsor), who sits on the panel, said: “I would like to see the word affordable rent and social housing somewhere in the vision just to focus our minds because our record on affordable rent and social housing has not been good in the past.

“If you look at the numbers it’s pretty much just shared-ownership.

“We are way behind what we said we would provide for affordable in the Borough Local Plan.”

The panel agreed that RBWM Property Company’s vision should include a commitment to providing affordable housing, including affordable rent options.

The council’s cabinet will now have to decide whether to agree on this recommendation.

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