Lewisham Council has won £525,000 from the Greater London Authority to help build more council, social rented and other genuinely affordable homes.

The money, which comes from a £10 million Homebuilding Capacity Fund, will go towards the planning and development of new homes.

This includes new roles at the council to speed up its house building programme, as well as suburban improvements in Downham and Bellingham.

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It also includes a new plan for public spaces in Lewisham town centre, Bellingham and Downham – the “spine of the borough” – cabinet member for housing, Cllr Paul Bell, said.

The plan will look at improvements to public transport accessibility including walking and cycling and potential development sites, he said.

This comes as central government cuts to planning and development budgets have been slashed by 50 per cent in the capital over the past eight years, holding back housing growth and plans to build new council homes.

The new funding is meant to support councils to increase housing supply as local planning authorities and as home-builders.

Cllr Bell said: “This is a fantastic news for our ambitious commitment to deliver 1,000 social homes by 2022. Over the last nine years we have seen our budget slashed by central government and so although this funding won’t reverse all those cuts it’s a very welcome boost for our home-building programme.”

Last month Lewisham Mayor Damien Egan said the council’s planning department needed to be more “robust” to help ensure social housing targets are met.

Figures from 2017 – 2018 show only one of the 450 homes built in the year was for social rent, with only five affordable – up to 80 per cent of the market rate.

Lewisham is one of 30 London authorities which has received the GLA funding.