Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer has taken part in an event to mark the completion of 51 new social homes in Camden.
For the local council, this week’s event was not only intended to celebrate the delivery of its latest project, but also to push the message that Camden is a national leader in council house building.
Sir Keir was present in his capacity as one of Camden’s local MPs – his constituency being Holborn and St Pancras – but politics being politics, his party leader’s cap was doubtless tucked well within reach.
The 51 new council homes are a key part of what has been delivered in a 119-home redevelopment, which has replaced a poorly built 1960s block, and drawn on underutilised land to increase the quality and number of social homes on the Maitland Park Estate in Haverstock, Camden.
Speaking at the event, which was attended by local residents as well as council cabinet members, Sir Keir said: “Well done to every single person who has been involved in this project. To walk in and see the buildings this morning was fantastic. And it was great to meet some of the residents who’ve recently moved in.
“This isn’t just about some bricks and some windows and a roof; this is about life chances, aspiration and equal opportunity for everyone. When I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of money, but we did have a house. And that gave me a security to go on and do some of the things that I’ve done in my life. I want every child to have that chance.
“This is what good councils can do when they put their mind to it. I’m very proud of Camden Council and what it has achieved here with this block, and many other similar blocks.”
The redevelopment at the Maitland Park Estate is the latest social housing project to reach completion in Camden since the authority announced the expansion of its housebuilding programme, by committing an extra £1.3bn investment towards building new homes.
Furthermore, as part of Camden’s strategy for diversity in the public spaces – which aims to better represent and empower the borough’s diverse communities – each of the three new residential buildings at Maitland Park have been named after prominent local figures.
They are: Noor Inayat Khan, the first woman spy who was dropped behind enemy lines in France during the Second World War; Mary Prince, the first black woman to have an autobiography published in Britain; and Antony Grey, an LGBTQ+ activist whose work led to decriminalisation of homosexuality for men.
The council says it is now on course to build 2,600 affordable homes, of which 1,800 will be new council homes.
To date, Camden says it has built more than 600 new council homes, providing larger, modern and more energy-efficient homes to over 1,500 residents, including 650 children, many of whom, the council says, were previously living in overcrowded homes.
In total Camden’s housebuilding programme will deliver 4,850 new homes for local residents, with the sale of private homes providing much-needed funding for new council homes.
Councillor Danny Beales, cabinet member for new homes, jobs, and community investment, said: “Here in Camden we are being bold and ambitious in delivering new council homes for our residents, building as many as we can as quickly as possible. We are championing the progressive and resilient methods that are needed right now to deliver these homes in the face of the severe financial challenges that councils like ours face.
“This is because the building of these homes cannot be delayed by the absence of national funding – not while council homes built a generation ago crumble, rents in the private sector skyrocket, and while families suffer in overcrowded homes. At Maitland Park we can demonstrate what is possible when we invest in council housing.
“We have worked with the estate’s residents to transform an outdated block in chronic disrepair into larger homes that meet modern standards and lift families out of overcrowding, we have increased the number of council homes on the estate from 36 to 51 while building new community facilities, and residents have shaped the legacy of where they live by helping to choose three remarkable figures from our local community to name their new buildings after.”
Main image: Sir Keir Starmer speaks at an event to mark the completion of 51 new council homes in Camden
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