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Affordable housing monitoring

What are we doing?

We've created an affordable housing monitoring tool which can provide clear, accessible, accurate and up-to-date information on affordable housing in Southwark.

The purpose of the tool is to:

  • compile a detailed record of all affordable homes in the borough
  • present affordable housing data in a publicly accessible and easily searchable way
  • assist the council to easily and promptly track the loss of affordable homes, and to take enforcement action to prevent this

The affordable housing monitoring tool is the result of a collaborative project between the council and dxw digital consultants, and has been prepared in consultation with external groups including other councils and developers. Southwark Council is the first council in the country to monitor affordable housing in this way, and we are proud to be a leading authority in innovation in this area.

Why have we made this tool?

What is affordable housing and why do we need to monitor it?

Affordable housing refers to homes that people can rent/buy for lower than usual market rates. It's meant to provide accommodation to those in most need, as well as to people who cannot, for different reasons, afford market rates.

In order to build new homes, developers or housing providers need to be given planning permission by the council. When planning permission is granted for a development which includes affordable housing, the developer signs a Section 106 agreement with the council. This is a legal agreement to confirm that they will build the affordable units as shown in the approved development plans.

Historically, the council has had limited powers to monitor the status of affordable homes once developments are completed. This means that in some cases, affordable homes have been built by the developer as agreed but some have later changed to a private tenure (eg due to homes being purchased by owners under the Right to Buy) or, in very rare cases, that affordable homes have not been built as agreed in the Section 106 agreement and are being occupied as privately rented or owned homes without the council's knowledge.

This is a problem because there is a very high need for affordable housing recognised in Southwark as demonstrated in the council’s Housing Strategy 2020. The council has committed to building 11,000 new social rented homes by 2043, and it is vital that we can monitor the provision of these new homes, as well as keeping up to date details on existing affordable homes, to make sure that we are meeting the affordable housing need in the borough. We need to make sure that this information is publically available so that our residents can be confident that we are meeting our target of providing 35% affordable housing on major developments.  

How does the affordable housing monitoring tool solve this problem?

We've already updated our monitoring webpages to include detailed information on the total housing approvals and completions figures since 2004, including the tenure breakdown of housing. This information is updated annually.

We created the affordable housing monitoring tool to improve the accuracy and accessibility of our affordable housing data. Using the affordable tool, we are able to present a full list of every affordable home in Southwark and to assign each home a unique reference number. The tool will be updated on a live basis as new planning applications are approved, and as developments are completed, to ensure that the information remains accurate and up to date and so that we can confirm that developers are complying with the details of Section 106 agreements. In this way, the council can track the status of every affordable home in the borough and can take action against the loss of affordable homes if necessary.

A public facing version of the tool is also being prepared. Once this is available, you'll be able to explore:

  • How many and what type of affordable homes have been granted planning permission in Southwark? 
  • Have developers delivered what was agreed within the S106 agreement? 
  • What has happened to the affordable homes after they were delivered? 

How we have collected the data

The affordable housing monitoring tool contains data collected from several sources, including:

  • planning approvals data (details taken from officer reports and Section 106 agreements at the point that a planning application is granted)
  • planning completions data (an annual data collection relating to all development completed that year)
  • housing information provided directly by Registered Providers operating in Southwark
  • housing data held by the council’s housing team

What you can expect from this tool in the future

Going forward, all affordable housing data relating to each planning application will be entered into the affordable housing monitoring tool by a planning officer when the application if approved. We will then require the developer to confirm these details again (and to provide the address of each affordable home) on completion of the development. Alongside this new requirement for data reporting, we have prepared an updated standard Section 106 agreement to include a requirement for the developer to submit as-built development plans and to allow a site visit to take place if requested before any homes are occupied.

This means that in the future, you can expect to be able to view clear, accessible, accurate and up-to-date information on affordable housing in Southwark on demand.

Page last updated: 23 April 2021

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