When the Conservatives were running Southampton City Council they embarked on an ambitious estates regeneration programme. The idea was to tackle the city’s dreadful housing shortage and regenerate our crumbling 1960s estates.
Labour took control of the city council in 2012 and pledged to build one affordable home for every day in office. They should by now have built around 1000 units. In reality they have achieved very little. Most of the homes that have been completed, in their almost three years in charge, were already being built.
Where they could have made significant progress was in continuing with the estates regeneration programme. However, this has now almost collapsed. Labour are obsessed with owning all the new homes that wholesale redevelopment would provide, rather than allowing a Registered Social Landlord to own and operate them. The problem with this approach is the cost of buying and holding new council housing.
Political dogma is now preventing many homeless and overcrowded families from getting the homes they need. An example of this is the city’s Townhill Park estate. This was to be a three-phase flagship development but has all but stalled. The city council cannot afford to continue with the development in the way Labour wanted because it would cost far too much and if it did, it would mean almost no new regeneration for the rest of the city.
Worse still, the council emptied the blocks which were earmarked for redevelopment in 2013, and they have lain unoccupied since then. With no specific start date for the rebuild, these blocks of flats could now remain empty for many more years to come.
It would appear that Labour’s political philosophy is more important to them than providing families on the ever-increasing waiting list with a home.