Due to the absence of affordable housing, the London Borough of Southwark has rejected the £500 million redevelopment of a former biscuit factory into a build-to-rent scheme.
The 15.3-acre site, situated near Bermondsey Tube Station and neighbouring the old Lewisham and Southwark College campus, would have provided 1,342 build-to-rent properties.
Additionally, retail and leisure space, offices, and a 600-place secondary school in buildings ranging from 4 – 28 storeys in height would have been included in the scheme.
GVA, the council’s viability adviser, anticipated the scheme to offer 32% affordable housing. The objective of 35% affordable homes was not met by the developer, who offered 27.5% of the homes being below market rents.
Due to this, and planners recommending refusal because the “development failed to provide the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing”, the scheme was rejected.
The affordable houses being offered, would be out of reach of those in greatest housing need.
The proposal did not conform with local, mayoral or London Plan policies, they decided;
“while the scheme did not provide an exemplary quality of accommodation for its future residents to combat the potential negative impacts of high-density living”.
Craig McWilliam, (the Grosvenor chief executive), said he was “obviously disappointed” committee’s decision.
“Our proposals are for a neighbourhood accessible to the growing majority of Londoners who simply cannot afford to buy, do not qualify for social housing and want the many advantages of a secure, professionally managed home to rent.
This includes Southwark’s many health, education, public order and fire service workers who can, through our proposals, afford to live close to where they work.
We have talked openly to many in Southwark on the opportunities build-to-rent brings, but also the difficult choices, often between competing benefits, that must be made to deliver these new homes. We have also consistently acknowledged and sought to explain why the economics of our proposals mean they cannot support social housing.”
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