The Liberal Democrats have announced plans to address the housing shortage in Lewisham and build more affordable homes.

There are around 9,058 families in Lewisham on a waiting list for council homes, up from 8,442 in 2015.

In addition, official figures show that 812 homes in Lewisham have been empty for over six months.

The Liberal Democrats would introduce a legal requirement for smaller housing developments to include affordable homes, make it easier for local authorities and housing associations to borrow money, and set up a new government-backed Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank.

The party would allow local authorities to hike up council tax on empty homes by up to 200%, including second homes. Local authorities could also choose to impose penalties on developers who leave plots of land empty for over 3 years, to tackle so-called land-banking.

John Russell, the Liberal Democrats’ Parliamentary Candidate for Lewisham West and Penge, said:

“Thousands of families in Lewisham do not have a decent or affordable home, and yet houses are sitting empty and plots of land are going undeveloped.

“I am delighted to see that the Lib Dems have announced a series of packages to help solve the problems of a totally unacceptable housing situation.”

Bobby Dean, our candidate for Lewisham Deptford, added:

“Britain’s housing crisis affects us all. Prospective first-time buyers are being priced out of the market. Families are stuck on waiting lists for months and months. And students, including those in Lewisham, are facing soaring rents.

“This cannot go on, and the Lib Dems would ensure that it does not. Our policies would make housing affordable and available again.”

Emily Frith, our candidate for Lewisham East, said:

“The numbers are damning. Over nine thousand families in Lewisham are waiting for council homes, whilst over 800 houses have been empty for six months or more.

“Yet only one party has a proper plan for correcting the situation. The Liberal Democrats do not share the complacency of Theresa May’s Brexit Government and Jeremy Corbyn’s ineffectual Labour Party.

To address the huge shortage of housing in the UK, the Liberal Democrats have committed to:

  • Directly build homes to fill the gap left by the market, to help reach our house-building target of 300,000 homes a year, through a government commissioning programme to build homes for sale and rent
  • Set up a new government-backed Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to provide long-term capital for major new settlements and house building projects
  • Enable local authorities to penalise excessive land-banking when builders with planning permission have failed to build after 3 years
  • Allow councils to levy up to 200% Council Tax on empty homes including second homes and ‘buy to leave empty’ investments from overseas
  • Ensure 500,000 affordable, energy-efficient homes are built over five years
  • Scrap exemptions on smaller housing development schemes from their obligation to provide affordable homes
  • Lift the borrowing cap on Local Authorities to build more social homes for rent
  • Increase borrowing capacity of Housing Associations through increased access to finance
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