Richmond’s affordable housing shortage is causing a “jam” as crisis families struggle to find a place to live but the authority will not resort to building high-rise blocks of flats, Richmond Council’s housing member has admitted.

Councillor Lisa Blakemore said the problem originates in part from the high concentration of “untouchable” green space and the “outrageous” cost of housing in the borough.

She said private developers are reluctant to adopt projects with significant affordable housing allocations because they are not commercially viable.

At least 75 per cent of development in the borough is undertaken by private developers.

More than 5,500 applicants are currently on the waiting list for housing association accommodation.

There are 258 homeless households in the borough, which the council has deemed as a “red indicator”, meaning it is falling short of its target.

The commentary provided in councillors’ information pack says “High demand for private rented sector accommodation is making it increasingly difficult to source appropriate temporary accommodation.

“Richmond is one of only two boroughs to reduce homelessness in each of the last two years.”

These residents are housed in temporary accommodation, with 13 in bed and breakfasts.

While 250 affordable homes were built in Richmond between 2012 and 2016 – the lowest of any London borough – 1,180 and 1,510 were built in Hounslow and Wandsworth, respectively, according to government statistics.

Labour councillor Jennifer Churchill said: “In Richmond it’s just not a priority.

“But it’s important not to forget about these people. A lot of them are struggling.

“My thoughts are with the local families facing the biggest anxiety - when and where are they going to find somewhere suitable that can be a home.

“Private developers are finding it much more alluring to provide luxury housing instead, and there is a high demand for it here.

“The partnership between the borough and the private associations which is supposed to take place just doesn’t come forward.”

Richmond Council transferred all its social rented housing stock to Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP) in 2000.

RHP is the main provider of affordable housing in Richmond, and the council therefore no longer directly manages or grants tenancies to affordable housing.

Cllr Blakemore said the council is “fighting hard” to find affordable housing units where it can, but is in a “jam” over affordable housing.

She said: “The problem we have is that large parts of the borough we can’t touch because it’s green space.

“And it’s not just that we have a lot of parks, but of course there are village plans here. We want each area to have sustainable communities.

“If you were to speak to residents in certain areas about building affordable housing in their areas you wouldn’t get applauded.

“In Whitton or in Hampton or in north Richmond – where you might already be poverty-stricken – and more houses and a load of flats are then built, it’s going to make their lives worse.

“That wouldn’t work for our community in Richmond.

“If you look at Hounslow and Wandsworth, they have a number of high-rise blocks, but we don’t want them. We can see them in Kingston and we don’t want them here.”

The overall target for new housing of any tenure in the borough is 315 homes per annum between 2015 and 2025, the lowest borough target when the City of London is excluded.

RHP said it has committed £250million over the next seven years to deliver up to 2,000 new affordable homes across west and south west London, which represents a “significant increase” from the levels delivered over recent years.

Phil Day, RHP’s executive director of finance, said: “We have completed over 40 affordable homes in the Borough over the last 3 months.

“We have also just completed the latest phase of community consultation regarding a possible regeneration scheme at Ham Close which could provide over 200 additional homes in the borough of Richmond which will include additional affordable housing.”