Murky Depths

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Greenwich borough, Plumstead

Greenwich Council selling off children’s centre cheaply?

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.

Former children’s centre for sale

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”.

Riverside House has been sold with income funding the Creative District instead of housing

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.

Taken from July 2019 council report

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.

Detailed figures from previous council report in early in 2019

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.

Riverside house on left. Also sold off recently

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.

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12 Comments

  1. Paul SuperUnknown

    I’ve always thought Torys were Business minded…well, if that were true, we must have a load of Bankrupts running the show, here, in Royal Greenwich!
    It’s mind boggling! Week after week, the fools in charge just screwing the hell out of tax payers!
    How long will the voters of this Burrough allow this buffoonery to continue?
    Wake up, for Christ’s sake!

  2. Graham

    Hi Simon it is a Labour Council your right. But the rest of Paul comments fit Labour Controlled Greenwich Council perfectly. They are so happy to waste tax payers hard earned cash.

    But then this would also go for a Labour Government that took us to the brink of bankruptcy the las time they were in power. They go on and on about the need for more affordable and social housing then sell prime sites to private developers.

    Double standards from Labour controlled Greenwich Council again and again. This is why so many readers on this site and others have been crying out for change at Greenwich Council. with their record of spending section 106 money etc.

    Which is a shame as this used be the best Borough in London but not now under the current leadership.

  3. Charles Calthrop

    I’ve noticed that Greenwich Library has a ‘Sold’ sign across it and wonder if a similar fate has befallen it. As I understood it there was a clause or provision where it would need to retain the library element – I’m wondering what will happen to that beautiful building and if its gone for pennies too.

  4. Withheld

    Not sure if I am supposed to know this, but the sale of Riverside House has fallen through.

  5. GreenwichRes

    Which library is that Charles? The old East Greenwich library?

    • Charles Calthrop

      Indeed, the one next to the old fire station. I was passing by the other morning and saw the new addition to the estate agent signs. I’m very sorry to see it suffer let alone be sold to be turned into who-knows-what. I have many fond memories of the place and still have my old paper tickets, as well as a book I keep meaning to return.

  6. Shaun S

    I asked a supplementary question as to why there was no change of use prior to sale, would that imply that no change of use would be granted after sale. Watch the video from council yourself, Cllr James could barely answer.

    The other part of the question was asking why the council is over-paying for residential properties which are UNINHABITABLE. They are completely wasting council money yet complaining they have no money purely because of government.

  7. Withheld

    Certainly not one to gossip (ha ha) but allegedly sale collapsed due to being sold to a Russian Businessman with an iffy source of funds + a car accident and a 22 month driving ban for being high on cocaine. If anyone has £17m spare that you can prove is not subject to money laundering rules then Riverside House can be yours…..

  8. CDT

    I do not mind the Council selling buildings that are surplus to requirements at market value to get the best deal for the Borough and the residents that represent. As long as the money is invested straight back in to front line services.

  9. Maria

    The Kinara building (which is locally listed) would be better off refurbished as a community centre. The new library and leisure centre isn’t going to be enough to meet local needs. New housing is due to be built on the site of the old leisre centre.

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