More than 1,500 people in the borough have been waiting 10 years or longer to be assigned a council house, a freedom of information request by the Surrey Comet has revealed.

Kingston Council's reponse to our request also shows that more than 2,100 people have been waiting for between five and 10 years for a home.

At the end of the last financial year, 7,390 people were on the authority's housing waiting list - more than the number of homes available, which is about 4,000.

The authority and housing associations can house about 400 people per year.

A man from Kingston, who asked not to be named, said he spent 18 months on the waiting list after suffering a heart attack, and losing his job and home.

He added: "One of my friends has been on it for about six years. You get prioritised and you get pushed further and further down.

"They could sort out this homeless thing with the amount of empty office blocks around here. On the estate where I live there are lots of empty properties."

Dr Mike D'Souza, from the One Norbiton community group, said: "I don't think [the council] is doing all it can, but I think it's certainly moving well now.

"You have to build the houses and find the land in a borough that's fairly crowded already - but we are a richer borough than most."

Jill Preston, chairman of the Cambridge Road Estates Community Group, said in one case a family of four was housed temporarily in a one-bedroom tower-block flat.

She added: "The only answer would be more social housing built - which is why we get so upset about student accommodation being built in vast quantities."

Council leader Kevin Davis said: "It is a real issue and the last administration simply did not build enough housing to meet that waiting list.

"Can we house the entire list? No. But we are working hard to find a way to significantly increase the amount of council-owned housing stock.

"We will be ready to make announcements on this in the New Year."

Liberal Democrat opposition leader Liz Green said: "If we hadn't had right-to-buy in the 1980s we would have a lot more council houses.

"We did quite a lot to get people out or to encourage them to downsize. We need to build more affordable housing - what we are always short of is the large homes."

A council applications officer said: "It is not possible to state exactly how long applicants have been registered for housing, only how long they have been waiting in their current priority band.

"However, for the majority of applicants, these two dates are the same."

High-priority people include existing tenants who need a bigger or better-adapted home, homeless households in temporary accommodation and those with disabilities.

The numbers

  • Waiting six months to a year: 789
  • Waiting one to two years: 1014
  • Waiting two to five years: 1795
  • Waiting five to 10 years: 2124
  • Waiting more than 10 years: 1505