We are proud of those projects because they represent our determination to use our ingenuity, and that of our consultants and contractors, to improve the housing prospects of those we exist to help. We believe we have to be prepared to try new ideas to achieve a step change.
Moreover, in London at least, meeting the Decent Homes standard is a bigger challenge for local authorities and some housing associations than is generally recognised. Given that the standard is not particularly high, this reflects decades of government under-funding in affordable homes. The position has got worse in recent years as Housing Corporation money that was available for re-improvement in the early 1990s is no longer available.
Most housing associations have done their best to invest in the existing stock during this time. Peabody has invested £200m, the impact of which can be seen on our central London estates. However, the pressure on us to meet the Decent Homes standard at those homes that we have not yet modernised, with no help from government, gives us no choice but to sell many of our existing homes.
Now that the Barker Review has been published, making the case for a massive increase in affordable housing, it is vital that the case for investment in existing homes is stressed. Otherwise the new supply will be undermined by the loss of existing units.
At a time when more people than ever are in temporary accommodation and unprecedented numbers of key workers are priced out of the market, society must find ways to build more cheaply and more sustainably. By carping at our efforts you, and your sources, do a disservice to all those who cannot afford to house themselves.
Dickon Robinson, director of planning and development, Peabody Trust, via email.