Havering Council to buy family homes on open market

Havering Council’s cabinet voted to buy homes on the open market to invest in housing stock so it can bring down its housing waiting list.

At the cabinet meeting on Wednesday of last week it agreed to use almost �1m of unused money given to it by the housing developer it sold the former Romford Dolphin swimming pool site to.

The �932,600 came from a section 106 condition put on developer Barratt to be used to build affordable homes in the borough.

The sum has to be spent by August this year, and will now be invested in buying and upgrading existing properties.

Labour leader Cllr Keith Darvill (Heaton) and Residents Association leader Cllr Clarence Barrett (Cranham) both said they agreed with the plan, but questioned why the council had left it so close to the deadline for spending the money to make the decision on spending it.

An officer explained that they had looked at a number of different options before deciding to buy the family homes.

Cllr Michael-Deon Burton (Independent Residents’ Association, South Hornchurch) raised concerns that the wording of ‘family homes’ in the document could be considered discriminatory against elderly or disabled residents.

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He said: “I agree with you entirely, I’m just saying the wording could be changed.

“Disabled people and the elderly tend to be in greater numbers in single units than the rest of the population.”

Cllr Steven Kelly (Conservative, Emerson Park) was adamant that the statistic wasn’t true, although chairman Cllr Michael White (Conservative, Squirrels Heath) didn’t let him interrupt.

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Lesley Kelly (Conservative, Harold Wood) said: “There’s a desperate shortage of three bedroom homes and we’re desperately short of houses with gardens.

“This isn’t saying that we shouldn’t house other groups, but to focus on what we desperately need.

“I think its good business sense.”

A legal officer stated that the wording was unlikely to be an issue.

Cabinet approved the plan.