Affordable Housing Progress: Duncan Cumberland in Conversation with Cllr Shaban Mohammed

19.04.24 4 min read by Iona MacRury
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We have recently reached an important milestone at our Manor Road Quarter development in Canning Town.

The handing over of the first 140 affordable homes to Metropolitan Thames Valley (MTVH) took place recently at Manor Road Quarter. Our Residential Director, Duncan Cumberland, sits down with Newham Councillor Shaban Mohammed for an exclusive interview.

Delivered by the English Cities Fund (ECF), a joint venture by Muse, Homes England and Legal & General, Manor Road Quarter is a new place in Canning Town. We’re creating 804 sustainable 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom homes, 50% of which will be affordable, available at London Affordable Rent or for sale via Shared Ownership. There will be space for businesses and shops to serve the growing community, all built around a 2.9-acre new park.

As the need for affordable housing continues to grow in London, initiatives like Manor Road Quarter represent a significant step towards addressing this pressing issue. With Metropolitan Thames Valley poised to receive these homes, the conversation between Cumberland and Mohammed explores insights into the collaborative efforts needed to deliver these essential must haves.

Collaboration is Key

What strategies do you believe are most effective in addressing London’s housing shortage?

For me, it’s about unlocking land and turbo-charging delivery. There are simply not enough homes being delivered. As a council we are open to innovative approaches to housing delivery, partnerships and direct delivery.

Which is why it’s great that we have partners such as ECF who know how to deliver affordable homes as part of Newham’s long term housing strategy, because they know its all about collaborating with others.

 

What specific challenges does the London Borough of Newham face regarding housing numbers?

For local authorities it has been one of the most challenging times with the cost-of-living crisis affecting thousands of people and which has led to the increase in homelessness. Not only that, we also have a huge issue with people in temporary unsuitable accommodation which is completely unacceptable in 2024.

We need to address this and quickly. We are looking at direct delivery, via Populo, working with RP partners, and also with the private sector. We have to look at this from all angles.

 

What’s the current status of housing developments in Newham, the proportion of affordable housing, and any obstacles encountered in meeting housing targets?

The London Borough of Newham has been actively engaged in various housing developments to address the growing demand for accommodation in the area. Like many boroughs, Newham faces significant housing challenges due to population growth, housing crisis and rising property prices.

Over the past 10 years, we have seen numerous housing projects aimed at increasing the pipeline of homes. These developments have included a mix of private, social, and affordable housing to cater to the diverse needs of our community.

Schemes like Manor Road that can deliver 50% are vitally important, and we have set ambitious targets for affordable housing to address the needs of our community. However, like many areas in London, there can be challenges in meeting these targets. Inflation, viability, and funding are the obvious obstacles at the moment. We are working with developers to assist where we can.

 

How do you engage with the local community in Newham to ensure that housing policies and decisions align with their needs and aspirations, particularly with issues such as affordability and quality?

I’ve lived in Canning Town all of my life. I am out in my community seeing the issues first hand. We listen to our residents but we have good lines of communication with delivery partners so we can ensure all voices are listed to. For example, you and I Duncan, have discussed operational issues in the past at the Rathbone Market development and we’ve been able to get things sorted – it’s about communication.

How has the partnership with English Cities Fund benefited the London Borough of Newham in addressing its housing needs and promoting sustainable urban development?

Partnerships with developers like the English Cities Fund have been instrumental in advancing the London Borough of Newham’s housing agenda and promoting sustainable urban development.

The collaboration with yourselves (ECF) has led to an increase in the supply of housing units within the borough and it’s enabled the delivery of affordable housing as part of larger development projects.

Our partnership has supported the creation of mixed-use developments that integrate residential, commercial, and public spaces, and they have played a vital role in revitalizing underutilized or derelict areas within the borough.

Through regeneration initiatives, former industrial sites or brownfield land have been transformed into vibrant, sustainable neighbourhoods and this will enhance the quality of life for residents. I remember this site even before it was the retail park, it was a scrap yard – and now we are going to have over 800 homes and a massive park, what’s not to love!!!

We like ECF because we know you’re here for the long term. You are financially stable; you are made up of credible partners and we’ve developed a relationship that is built around delivery and trust

 

In what ways do you believe collaborative efforts between local government and developers contribute to addressing broader national housing challenges?

Collaborative efforts between local government and developers are essential for tackling the complex and multifaceted housing challenges facing London and contribute to creating more inclusive, sustainable, and thriving urban environments for residents across the capital.

However, it’s about pace of delivery. There are enough hurdles to getting to site such as planning and funding. Housing needs to be treated as vital national Infrastructure and we simply have to find ways to fast track its delivery. As I mentioned before we are looking at many paths to delivery – direct, partnership and private sector. All have a place, and all are welcome.

 

How do you anticipate the Manor Road Quarter development will directly impact the lives of local residents in Newham?

It will make a huge impact. The commitment to providing 50% affordable housing within the Manor Road Quarter represents a significant investment in the well-being and prosperity of local residents in Newham.

By addressing housing affordability challenges and promoting socioeconomic diversity, the development has the potential to positively transform lives and strengthen the fabric of the community that I grew up in for generations to come.

 

As a key decision-maker for the borough, what considerations were taken when approving the Manor Road Quarter development, and how does it align with the long-term vision for Newham?

Canning Town has seen huge changes over the past 15 years and my priority as Ward Councillor and housing regeneration lead, is to ensure this growth is equitable and inclusive.

We acknowledge schemes need to be viable to attract investment, but they mustn’t leave the original community behind. This is why the social infrastructure such as the library, market square and park, alongside mixed tenure housing is so important to me.

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Affordable Housing Progress: Duncan Cumberland in Conversation with Cllr Shaban Mohammed