Developer Pocket Living recently created a website and form to encourage the public to lobby and email Greenwich Council in support of selling public land.
It now appears people who used that form to oppose the sell-off of public land are receiving emails from Greenwich Council claiming they support the application.
This is courtesy of local group Greenwich Housing Forum:
In recent weeks Conservative politicians have also raised links at council meetings between a former high ranking Labour politician (Former Woolwich and Greenwich Labour MP Nick Raynsford) and Pocket Living, as he sits on the developer’s Board of Directors.
The council insist there is no conflict of interest.
Pocket Living is described as 100% “affordable” but the Conservative government’s definition has rendered that term moot in many places.
The government stretched the “affordability” term on new homes to 80% of market rates in recent years which led to a situation where in parts of London, homes priced above a million are still deemed “affordable”. Whilst these will not be sold at anywhere near that, they are at the very highest definition of “affordable” at 80%.
The land sell off has previously raised concern given when options for the sale were considered, the councils own developer Meridian Homes was not even considered.
Pocket Living plan to sell homes at 80% market value and have called £90,000 income levels “modest” on their website, whereas social homes tend to be 40-50% market levels and Meridian at 50-65%, though that could be reduced.
After Greenwich’s Cabinet approved the sell off without considering the Meridian Homes option, backbench Labour MPs called it in for scrutiny. It went back to the Cabinet who approved a second time. Since then, caps on council borrowing have been lifted allowing greater scope to develop outright.
In their PR drive, Pocket Living also claimed new flats would be suitable for key workers yet at £90k income are beyond the reach of many nurses, teachers and police officers.
The flats are also on the borderline of legal size limits at 38 square metres (39 is the legal limit with a bath or 37 sq metres with a shower) meaning any key worker would struggle with starting a family.
Greenwich Council have also argued that they “need” to provide homes to those at 80% market rates. But with homelessness rising sharply and costs from the taxpayers to house people in B&Bs rising ever more, many have argued that the greatest “need” is to help the most vulnerable whilst lowering costs to taxpayers of funding B&B, hotel and short term stays.