New plans for 25 homes in Erith have been submitted for approval.
The site at 35-37 Lesney Road was “disposed” by Bexley Council to its property development company named BexleyCo. See this Freedom of Information answer from Bexley Council for a list of sites transferred (it’s at the bottom of the page).
The site was Hainault Care Home until closure in 2014. Another care home is to the rear of this site. The site was originally a maternity hospital from 1920 to 1974.
One point that will again arouse criticism of Bexley Council and affordable housing provision is all homes aside from supported living flats (32% of units) will be market sale. Bexley Council, like many councils, is paying ever more taxpayers money to house people in expensive private rentals owing to a lack of truly affordable homes. This now reaches tens of millions annually that taxpayers are paying. Across the nation it’s in the billions.
On paper council’s developing sites makes much sense.Even if homes are predominantly for market sale they can re-invest profits into providing social homes elsewhere or other public services. The crucial question is will that happen? If income is just to prop up private landlords it’s throwing taxpayers money down the drain.
The alternatives of selling sites to private developers are also poor. Selling land normally yields a short term cash boost but less income over the mid to long term.
So-called affordable housing is only provided after a developer deems it viable – which in effect means after minimum profit margins of 20 per cent.
That often sees low numbers provided. Authorities developing either themselves or via development companies should, in theory at least, provide more homes that people on average wages can afford off their own back without parental support or government props manipulating the market due to very high housing costs – though not if they sell at elevated “market” prices unaffordable to most in large part down to Government manipulation.
BexleyCo however havn’t covered themselves in glory. So far they’ve proposed using publicly accessible green spaces. A sure fire way to provoke public hostility at the outset. This site however is not publicly accessible and has lay unused for five years. It also provides supported living flats.
Plans state that in total there would be:
- 17 new homes
- 8 Supported Living apartments
- Private gardens for all houses; a communal garden and
balconies for Supported Living residents
- Parking for each house and designated parking for the
Supported Living building
- Cycle and refuse storage
Can we expect an easier ride with this plan compared to prior BexleyCo applications? The usual complaints of parking, service pressure and more will no doubt follow though we are in a housing shortage which is costing everyone big. And the more new homes are built the fewer existing homes are divided up into bedsits and Homes of Multiple Occupation – which is something opponents of new homes all too often ignore.
The alternative to building new doesn’t remove pressure – and removes homes for young families.
Services of course must keep up and that takes investment. Bexley borough has some of the longest GP waits across all London boroughs yet sits near the bottom for new homes built.