Friday, 27 March 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.

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