Yesterday Southwark's Cabinet met with a packed agenda and took really important decisions on council tax, council rents, the future of the Aylesbury Estate, the delivery of our 11,000 new council homes and planning guidance for Blackfriars Road.
On council tax residents will benefit from another year of freeze - we will have frozen council tax for all 4 years of our Labour administration. This is good news for residents at a time when virtually every other bill keeps going up.
On council house rents we rejected a recommendation that we should increase them by 5.4% and limited any increase to consumer price inflation - or 2.7% only. Again helping some of the most vulnerable in our borough and keeping the average council rent for a 2 bed property below £100 per week.
We accepted a report on how we might deliver our commitment to build 11,000 new council homes over the next 30 years and tasked officers to work up even more detailed plans. It is worth repeating that our commitment to build 11,000 new homes is more than any other council has committed to - but it is a commitment which we know with confidence we can deliver. As the government continues to encourage Right to Buy, removing housing from our stock for rent, we are building more genuinely affordable housing for those people on low incomes who need to be able to live and work in central London.
After 16 years of promises and false dawns, we were able to announce that our partners in delivering the regeneration of the Aylesbury Estate will be Notting Hill Housing Trust. Over the course of the next 15 - 20 years NHHT will work with Barratts to build 3500 new homes for Southwark and London, 50% of which will be new genuinely affordable homes. Just 3 years ago the government withdrew PFI funding from the regeneration of the Aylesbury which left us without a business plan or any prospect of delivering what residents had been promised. To have progressed matters so far and so fast is testament to the commitment of residents, officers and politicians involved with the project. Great news for Southwark!
And we agreed new planning guidance for the Blackfriars Road. This was not supported by residents who attended the meeting and addressed us, but I hope that they will understand that we are only trying to bring some order to a potentially complex set of planning applications and building projects on sites along and adjacent to Blackfriars Road. Our recent experience with the Mayor of London's decision to call-in and grant permission to a scheme at 399 Rotherhithe New Road is a clear indicator that we as a council and a borough cannot just sit back and hope that the world will go away if we pretend it isn't there. There is a great deal of interest in Blackfriars Road - and it has the potential to be an amazingly exciting boulevard for Southwark and its' residents. With new proposals from TfL to make the road safe for all road users and 19 projects in or having been granted planning permission, it was important that we tried to coordinate the appearance of the road. The new guidance does just that.