Southwark Council's cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, Councillor Mark Williams, has written of the authority's policy of working with residential developers "to build the homes we need".
Williams was responding to an article in The Guardian criticising the sale of public land and real estate to the private sector, which said such deals are struck at the property conference Mipim, the UK version of which took place in London earlier this month (October).
The article, written by senior economics commentator for the paper, Aditya Chakrabortty, raises concerns about the number of people on waiting lists for council houses, which it said was 344,000 in London alone, and questions whether the building of luxury apartments in the place of public real estate was the best way to combat this.
But Williams refuted the claim that deals were struck at Mipim. Responding in the same paper, he wrote: “All regeneration projects go through a full competitive EU procurement process, which enables us to get the best deal for our borough’s residents."
Underlining the borough’s commitment to build affordable homes, Williams wrote that the authority is investing £326 million to improve its council housing stock: “We are at the start of an ambitious programme to build 11,000 council homes by 2043, with the first 600 already on-site or in planning, with 1,500 to be built by 2018,” he said.
According to Williams, the only way to achieve the council’s plans to build the homes is to continue working with the private sector.
Councillor Stephen Platts, director of regeneration at Southwark Council, said: "In Southwark 1,613 new affordable homes were built between 2010 and 2013 – more than in any other London borough."
Southwark Council has bought Courage Yard on Shad Thames, near Tower Bridge, which it will redevelop to generate income for frontline services.