Hackney is building FAQs

The Government provides barely any funding to build council housing or new facilities like schools and leisure centres, and stops councils from fully reinvesting the income it gets from sales under its Right to Buy policy to build replacement Council homes.

Because of this, the only way we can afford to build new council housing with genuinely affordable rents and the public facilities to support these communities is to build some homes for outright sale to help pay for them.

It costs around £300,000 to build a home on council land, and we need to sell around one and a half homes outright to cover the cost of building one for social rent.

But between 2018 and 2022, we will build more homes for social rent and shared ownership than for sale, as well as 3 new secondary schools and a first-class leisure centre.

No. Any secure council tenants living in existing homes due for demolition under our programme are offered the right to return to a new home under exactly the same tenancy conditions. Leaseholders are offered a fair deal for their home, and the opportunity to buy a new home in our new developments.

The only reason we build any homes for sale is to pay for new social housing in the absence of government support. Our programme is not-for-profit, and the only reason we are building homes at all is meet the demand for genuinely affordable housing for those most in need.

We only build three types of homes – traditional council homes at a social rent, shared ownership properties designed to help struggling private renters find an affordable option to buy their first home, and some homes for outright sale to pay for the rest.

The average rent for two-bedroom property in a council home for social rent is just £97 per week – around 5 times less than in the private sector.

We don’t build homes that some developers and politicians call ‘affordable’, but can actually mean paying up to 80% of the market rate. We don’t think these homes are affordable for people in Hackney.

You can read more detailed information in our ‘What is Affordable Housing?' [pdf, 217.04Kb] guide.

All of the Council homes we build for social rent go to residents who have the right to return to a new home because their old home was demolished as part of our programme, existing tenants nearby given first dibs, or homeless families on our housing waiting list.

Homes for shared ownership are marketed by our in-house Hackney Sales team, allowing us to prioritise first-time buyers who live or work in Hackney. 100% of these properties at our Great Eastern development went to Hackney buyers.

The homes we build for outright sale – to pay for our social housing – are also marketed by Hackney Sales to local buyers first. We will always prioritise those who want to own and live in their properties, rather than overseas investors. For example, at the first phases of the Kings Crescent regeneration project in Stoke Newington, 97% of homes for outright sale went to owner-occupiers, and none were sold overseas. At our Great Eastern development, all shared ownership homes were sold to Hackney residents.

Our in-house sales team, Hackney Sales, market to local buyers first, and we never advertise out of London. By managing sales ourselves, rather than leaving it to a developer, we have shown that homes can be sold locally to owner-occupiers who have a stake in their community.

For example, at the first phases of the Kings Crescent regeneration project in Stoke Newington, 97% of homes for outright sale went to owner-occupiers, and none were sold overseas.

The vast majority of our programme is built on Council land – built by the Council, owned by the Council and managed by the Council. By keeping control of our land and building homes ourselves, we can ensure that genuinely affordable homes are actually built, rather than subject to the whims or viability tests of a developer.

It also means that the rent paid by tenants can be reinvested in building new homes in the future, rather than being paid to the shareholders of a private company.

Where we are working in partnership with a developer, it is only ever to help fund Council homes as part of a wider housebuilding scheme on the same estate.

Government restrictions and lack of funding mean the only way we can afford to build new genuinely affordable council homes for the 13,000 families on our waiting list is to build some homes for outright sale to help pay for them.

It costs around £300,000 to build a home on council land, and we need to sell around one and a half homes outright to cover the cost of building one for social rent.

Despite this we always build more homes for social rent and shared ownership than we do for sale. The homes we sell outright also help pay for the three new schools and leisure centre we’re building over the next few years.

The Government doesn’t allow councils to fully reinvest the income it gets from sales under its Right to Buy policy to build replacement Council homes.

While we’ll continue to campaign for these rules to be changed, Hackney desperately needs more homes now, and that’s why we’ll continue with our successful model.

We only demolish existing Council homes when they are coming to the end of their life and would be uneconomical to repair.

We always offer secure Council tenants the right to return to a brand new home on their estate and give leaseholders a fair deal and the opportunity to buy a new home – as well a full package of compensation and support for the disruption.

We never demolish homes to sell off our land to developers or to move residents elsewhere. Our only objective is to build new, genuinely affordable Council homes for those most in need.

Any secure Council tenants whose home will be demolished are automatically entitled to the right to return to a new home on their estate.

Under our keeping communities together policy, tenants living near to some of our new developments also have first dibs on new homes – it’s only fair when they’ve put up with the disruption of construction.

All other new council homes for social rent go to those in highest priority on the Council’s housing waiting list. For more information on this, and to apply to join the register, read the housing options and advice pages.

If you are interested in buying a property we’re building for shared ownership or outright sale, visit Hackney Sales for more information on how to apply.

The Government doesn’t provide any direct funding to councils or allow councils to fully reinvest the income it gets from sales under its Right to Buy policy to build replacement council homes.

Because of these restrictions, we can’t build more genuinely affordable homes than we currently are.

Recent funding from the Mayor of London is allowing us to build more genuinely affordable Council housing, but without a step-change in funding from central Government we cannot deliver the number of homes we desperately need.

As well as building homes ourselves, we’re also helping our partners to build around 900 new homes between 2018 and 2022 as well – including by providing some funding. For more information, read the helping others to build page.

It’s a new type of part-rent, part-own housing, aimed at first-time buyers struggling to get onto the housing ladder.

Residents buy a share in a new home that they can afford, and pay a subsidised rent for the remaining share to the Council. Overall costs are generally lower than renting from a private landlord, and the homes are all managed by the Council.

For more detailed information or advice, visit Hackney Sales.

Building homes in a city is hard. Getting land ready to start construction can take years – especially when some existing homes need to be demolished beforehand.

Because we think it’s vital that residents are directly involved in shaping new developments, we also spend longer than other developers consulting with existing tenants and residents before applying for planning permission.

You can see all of the projects where we’re planning to build new homes on the what Hackney is building page.

If any new homes are planned on your estate, you’ll receive newsletters and other communications from the Council and its partners to keep you up to date.  

We think too many homes built in London are small and not designed to last for the future. That’s why by building homes ourselves, we’ve put better rules in place to ensure our new properties are spacious, efficient and modern and go far beyond the minimum standards set out by the Government.

We appoint award-winning architects that spend months working with local residents, and we make sure their designs are challenged by a panel of other leading architects.

And we do what we say. New homes at Kings Crescent were named one of the top 50 new buildings in the UK in 2018 by the Royal Institute of British Architects – the only council housebuilding project listed.

We’re doing both. Where it’s economically viable to invest in existing homes, we’ll do it – we only demolish homes to build new ones when it would be impractical to repair them. We invest hundreds of millions of pounds every year in maintenance and improvements to the thousands of Council homes in the borough.

Where possible, we’ll also invest in existing homes as part of regeneration projects. At Kings Crescent, we’ve refurbished some properties – adding balconies and other facilities – as well as building modern, high-quality homes.

No. Our projects are built on Council-owned land where homes already are, or were previously, and on underused land where things like disused depots, boiler houses or offices are.

If we do plan to build on space earmarked for development, that has temporarily used by the community for other things like food growing or as makeshift play space, we’ll always look to re-provide that as part of any new project – with better facilities.

After years of our campaigning, the Government removed the arbitrary Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap – which placed artificial limits on our ability to borrow money to fund expensive housebuilding – in 2018.

While this allows us to build homes at one time, the Government did not provide any new funding to actually pay towards building them. The money we borrow will still need to be repaid, and so whilst this change is welcome, it does not make the building of new social housing any more financially viable.

The lifting of the cap does not remove the need for the Council to find ways of paying for the expensive business of building homes, and it will still need to deliver homes for sale to cover the £100,000 gap in funding for each Council home for social rent we build. The Council’s existing mixed-tenure, cross-subsidy model remains the only realistic way to pay for new Council housing.

Without further significant reforms to restrictions on reinvesting income from Right to Buy sales, a commitment to stable rent levels, and further investment from the Government – including grant funding – it will still be difficult to deliver the step-change in Council housebuilding ministers have promised.

Page updated: 22/03/2019 16:09:59