Housing in Bromley has reached crisis point. Young families can't afford to buy, the average rental cost in Bromley is now over £1,200 per month, homelessness in Bromley has reached record levels. We need a mix of people of all ages and income brackets to build a Bromley for the future, and we need to be sure there is a safety net for people when they need one.
Apart from the cost of housing, many people are concerned about overdevelopment in certain areas where new buildings do not fit in with the rest of the town and come without services such as GPs, school places and parking spaces.
It's a national problem that requires action on a big scale, but in Bromley there are solutions that your council can deliver. If elected these are the solutions we will adopt.
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Renting in Bromley - Rogue Landlords
With the lack of affordable housing in Bromley, more and more people find renting privately is their only option. Fears of rogue landlords and agents make renters feel particularly vulnerable – yet Bromley Council have so far failed to join the new "Rogue Landlords" database run by the London Mayor. By joining in this scheme Bromley Council will help to reassure renters that their prospective landlord or agent is not one of the unscrupulous few, while at the same time providing a deterrent to landlords against poor practice. If elected we will ensure that Bromley joins this scheme.
We want at least 35% of new housing built in the borough to be affordable - and to be affordable as part of the same development. In the last full financial year just 20 affordable homes were built in the entire borough.
Bromley sold its social housing to Affinity Sutton and other housing associations in 1992. The stock of social housing has diminished as people exercise their right to buy, and the condition of some of the housing stock is now requiring significant investment. There are no plans to replenish the stock.
Sutton Council is run by Liberal Democrats. They have just started work on a new build programme that will see the first new council houses built in 30 years. Over 90% will be affordable, and will provide a mix of different sized units including some that are wheelchair accessible. This innovative scheme is one we will mimic in Bromley, where there is a real need to build homes that people can afford either to rent or buy. We have committed to spend £53 million on new affordable and council housing in Bromley - see details of our pledge here.
Many of us think of homeless people as rough sleepers - people who sleep in the open air or places not made to be lived in (like cars or building entrances). In fact anyone who is having to leave their current home and has nowhere else to live can be considered homeless.
There are many reasons why a person might find themselves with nowhere to live, perhaps because they have lost their job, because they are being evicted, because of sudden ill health, or because a relationship has broken down. With the high cost of housing it doesn't take much for people to find themselves homeless. In Bromley there is a 58% shortfall in the number of homes available for temporary accommodation; many homeless families are moved to other boroughs because of the lack of emergency accommodation - many families are moved to Medway for example. At a time when people are under most stress to remove them from their family and friends, and children from their schools, seems particularly heartless. There have been moves to build more temporary homes recently and we welcome these but will make sure that the efforts are intensified.
There have been some great new housing developments and flats built around the borough of Bromley in the last few years - although as stated above nowhere near enough are affordable. But some of the proposed developments simply don't fit in with the local area – or even fit in with other new developments - and Bromley Council do not insist that additional services are included in the development plan (transport, GPs, schools etc). We need Bromley Council to be proactive about new developments, actively stakeholder managing and influencing to ensure that new homes built have the right services, have enough affordable homes and will contribute to making Bromley a better place to live.
Nationally the Liberal Democrats believe that having a decent, warm, appropriate home in a clean, safe and well-managed neighbourhood is a basic human right. These rights apply to people buying their home, renting privately or in council-owned housing. We are committed to build 300,000 houses a year by 2022, and to allow councils greater freedom to borrow for the provision of social housing.