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Boris Johnson's affordable rent faces council's legal challenge

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Boris Johnson's affordable rent faces council's legal challenge

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government

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Southwark Council has issued a legal challenge against the London Mayor's affordable rent levels.

The council, which currently sets social rent at around 40% of market rent values, has objected to rules laid out in the London plan that allow developers to charge up to 80% of market rent levels on new "affordable rented" housing - and still call new homes "affordable".

According to the council, the new rules will mean that in many parts of the borough rents will swell to well over £1,000 a month, far exceeding what is affordable to the majority of its tenants who are eligible for social housing.

The council submitted a joint response to the plan's alterations to the planning inspector 2012, arguing that boroughs should be given more flexibility to use their own expertise to decide how best to seek to meet their housing need within their own borough-specific planning policies.

The planning inspector agreed with the councils' complaints and suggested that the Mayor take the restrictive wording out of the alterations, thereby allowing boroughs to set rent caps or their own criteria for affordable housing if required. However, the Mayor has rejected the inspector's recommendation and decided to go ahead anyway.

Southwark has now joined other councils such as Islington in the statutory challenge to Boris Johnson's decision.

Councillor Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration and planning, said; “We have challenged the Mayor’s decision because this is a vitally important issue for an Inner-London borough like Southwark. Councils need every power possible to ensure rent levels are appropriate and affordable for their residents.

"Maybe there are some areas of London where rent levels of 80% of market rent are affordable to most people, but they certainly aren't in Southwark. The implication of the Mayor's decision is that councils will have little power to make sure new affordable housing is really, genuinely affordable for local people.”

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