Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses(Questions 40-42)




  40. Could you let us have a note on that?
  (Councillor Keith) Yes.

Mr Streeter

  41. We all know that when we embarked on a massive social house-building programme in the 1960s and 1970s, lots of mistakes were made, such as high-rise blocks and so on. My concern about finding the numbers you are talking about and the kind of resources you require or that you are asking for from government to provide a lot more social housing is are we not going to repeat the same mistakes in the future? Can you assure the Committee that lessons have been learnt and that the kind of units you would be erecting would be high-quality housing and people would actually want to live there not just for five years but for 25 years?
  (Councillor Keith) I think that is a question which almost needs to bounce back to national legislation. I think it is an absolutely fair question, but I think it is also something that many of the registered social landlords, who will be the major players in this, need to answer and it is a question which also potentially triggers off debates about the quality of new build within an urban renaissance and thinking back to issues of Parker Morris standards and so on which opens up another debate which I think is a very important debate, but maybe not one to capture in two sentences. I do not think it is one that you could expect again a single authority or a single social landlord to respond to, but I do think it is or it should be encumbent if those resources are made available that the quality is radically different from what we saw in the 1960s and 1970s.


  42. Can I press you on the question of not the building standards, but the money there to provide communal services. With most of the lofts that have been converted within Tower Hamlets, you will find that service charges are running at anything up to £80 a month or even higher. Now, if you are on a middle-class income, that may be affordable, but for most of the people we are talking about with affordable housing, is there really going to be enough money for the caretaking and the looking after of high-density living in Tower Hamlets?
  (Councillor Keith) I think there are examples of high-density new build, stuff Piers Goff has done recently in Scotland, where you can get high density and affordability. I think it raises major questions of design as much as major questions as to the specifics.

  Chairman: I think we can leave it at that. Thank you very much for your evidence.

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