At yesterday’s council meeting the issue of Greenwich Council selling the Kinara Children’s Centre in Plumstead for a low price came up.
A resident queried an apparent low sale price, and while disputing the exact figures given, the council state they will receive a low price due to the building having planning class D1.
The reply from Labour Councillor Sizwe James, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Growth, stated: “the current market value is substantially lower than a building of equivalent size with planning permission for residential use”.
This seems madness. Why not submit a planning application to convert the use class before selling – if it has to be sold? The very advert they placed states that the building may be suitable for conversion to housing. In reality an application to change to residential is almost certain to be approved whoever applies.
Or why not use the site for housing themselves instead of paying huge sums for market homes – and housing local people many miles from London. They could convert or build new homes on sight.
Numbers of homeless people placed in temporary accommodation was at a record high at the exact same time an advert to sell the council-owned building was placed.
The council is not utilising enough of the land it has to provide badly needed new homes. It sells many plots for short term income at the expense of higher mid-to-long term costs – as it then pays for ever more people to live in poor quality, expensive private rentals with a shortfall of council owned homes. Taxpayers are ultimately are footing the bill. Landlords love it.
It could build direct. It could use Meridian. It could partner with a Housing Association. Instead it’s selling off.
While they have changed tack on selling the former leisure centre and now plan housing, it’s half a job. The scale of the issue requires maximum effort.
For those unaware, the Kinara Centre is being sold to fund the new Plumstead library building. Unlike just about every other authority I can think of, they opted to fund the scheme entirely by themselves by selling local assets instead of seeking external funding and then match-funding to lower burdens on local residents.
It’s interesting to note the answer on selling this building was given at a council meeting where the Labour leader took every chance to bring tribal politics into the equation. No answer was complete with mentioning the Tories yet when it comes to decisions in the borough the authority goes beyond the action of many Tory councils. Selling children’s centres for peanuts instead of providing new homes. Really?
Even accounting for awful central Government policy on housing (right to buy is decimating stock levels and funds for new homes are pitiful) the current local efforts are nowhere near enough.