Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Pensions secretary claims association is acting like a ‘property speculator’

IDS disputes L&Q's social housing provider status

The secretary of state for work and pensions has threatened to challenge London & Quadrant’s status as a social housing provider.

Iain Duncan Smith has warned 66,000-home L&Q that he will contact communities secretary Eric Pickles to question its housing association status if it refuses to meet a millionaire keen to redevelop Walthamstow dog track in east London.

L&Q bought Walthamstow Stadium in 2008 but does not plan to build social homes on the site due to viability concerns after the government ended capital grant for social rent. Mr Duncan Smith claims L&Q is acting like a ‘property speculator’.

The MP for Chingford and Woodford Green is backing investor Bob Morton who is offering L&Q £16 million for the site to re-open it as a dog track.

L&Q received planning consent for a 294-home development on the site from Waltham Forest Council in May. The plans have been referred to the mayor of London.

L&Q does not want to sell the land and is refusing to meet Mr Morton.

Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘They absolutely must meet. If they don’t then I would have to go back to the secretary of state to question their right and status as social housing providers.’

Mr Pickles has no power to order the de-registration of a housing provider. However, the regulator can de-register an association if it no longer meets criteria, which includes the provision of homes for below market rents. Mr Duncan Smith has attacked L&Q for including just 60 homes for affordable rent, and none for social rent in its plans, although the government has effectively ended support for new social housing. A spokesperson for L&Q said its plans would bring £50 million of investment into Waltham Forest.

Readers' comments (64)

  • I thought 'localism' would sort out issues like this?

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  • So Mr Duncan wants to build a dog track. L&Q want to build houses. If a dog track is built the land will be worth £16 million (so says private Entrepreneur Bob Morton - so he must be right because he is private.) L&Q wont sell at this price because it has paid more for the land. (Dont know how much but it figures that the houses are going to be worht a lot more than the income from dog racing punters). Mr Duncan Smith cant work out that if L&Q dont maximise the value of the site less social housing will be built (allbeit elsewhere). In true crony capitalism style he uses his position in Government to pursue a personal agenda. I thouhgt that this sort of corruption only happened in Naples. Lets hope Pickles uses some chararcteristically blunt language to tell him what to do with his mate Bob Morton.

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  • As a tenant of London & Quadrant I can tell you they let antisocial cases going on for decades and let issues go on from one officer to the other endlessly. I would welcome any iniative that would take tenants like out of London and Quadrant grasp. IDS should apply to have us tenants handed over to a new Housing Association independent from current Ceo and board which shouold be truly for social tenants and L&Q left only to operate with their so called schemes of affordable rent and market rent.

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  • If they are forced to meet, it will set a very bad precedent.

    Do we know why IDS wants this particular buyer to be met?

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  • @HarryHyams - £16m isnt far from the price paid originally by all accounts. Last time I checked, Morton's plans were for more than just a dog track, so there would be other income streams.

    Are IDS and Morton friends or is that just a guess? It's not something I've heard before

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  • DB-P
    What do we need most in London - Dog tracks or housing?

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  • On the sidelines

    the only people going to the dogs, who don't want to go,are those on the waiting lists....the fat controller and shaft will sort it out...right

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  • This all smacks of government corruption and blackmail. Yet another example of central government diktat localism.
    And with Boris sticking his oar in too he's Britian's best answer to Silvio Berlusconi so far.

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  • Rick Campbell

    HH -- what the country perhaps is less of IDS and his fellow demonisers.

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  • I am with IDS in this. If Housing Associations are not stopped with these schemes they will end up building very little social homes and lots of market rent and affordable rent. Housing Association should be forced to remain strictly as social landlords. The moment you give Housing Associations the licence to build for amrket rent and sales - do you think it will stop there? They will never stop until social housing will be for them just an excuse to get government funding to support their more market oriented activities. It's so much cooler than building social homes, these days... If you want to really defend social housing, you must fight for social landlords to remain nothing more than social landlords and have other organizations do the so called market and so called affordable rent new building programs.

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