The Co-operative and housing: Why aren’t they building?

The Co-operative have a long and proud history of providing housing across the UK. The old RACS built entire estates including Abbey Wood’s Bostall estate which comprised over 1,000 homes built between 1900 and 1914.

These days however, the modern Co-operative’s house building strategy leaves a lot to be desired. Of course, the days of the group building 1,000 home estates are long gone, but they do possess some underused sites.

Large half empty car park beside New Eltham station – photo taken from station bridge

One such site is at the Co-operative branch on McLeod Road at Abbey Wood’s Bostall estate – the very site of much building in the early 20th century.

Courtesy Google. Outline plan approved in 2013. Nothing followed

Over six years ago an outline plan from the group was approved that would see 11 homes here. Nothing has happened since those 2013 plans.

If the co-op wanted to go further they could rebuild their own single-storey branch with new homes above. Two floors of flats above wouldn’t be out of place:

Courtesy Google. Single level building

Another co-op site is a large car park directly beside New Eltham station; an ideal spot for housing. Alongside rail improvements it would be an ideal spot to accommodate new homes.

Car park beside station

We could see greater public transport use by building here – and an alley way running parallel to the platform opened up.

Car park viewed from station footbridge

Parts of the car park closest to the station entrance are often empty and used to dump rubbish. The car park is far larger than needed by a small convenience store. It could be halved and still accommodate shoppers visiting by car.

Rubbish dumped behind bushes here. A new development could see trees planted on paving to minise greenery lost and alley opened up

Land often exists beside co-op stores across the country due to former dairies, factories and food production. The plot behind Abbey Wood’s co-op was a dairy. The Abbey Wood estate also included factories producing jam. That was turned into housing by the London County Council after World War 2 – who also built 3,000 homes on Abbey Wood estate.

Large car park for a small convenience store. It’s rarely ever near full

Most (all?) Labour councillors in Greenwich borough are part of the Co-operative’s political party. On ballot papers you will see them listed as Labour and Co-operative. Could they perhaps give the group a little shove and ask what they can do to assist speed up building? It would certainly be good PR for politicians and the co-op group.

Greenwich Council’s Cabinet Member for Air Quality and Transport is Denise Scott-McDonald (Labour and Co-operative – Greenwich Peninsula) who was recently elected to the Co-operative Members Council.

Courtesy Google. Red area owned by co-op and vacant for decades

Given the Co-operative group’s non-profit status, perhaps a large number of affordable homes could be included on sites too. The lack of movement at sites for many years means a little wake-up call from local Labour councillors to exert pressure could ease the chronic housing problems now seen.

How about it Greenwich Labour and Co-operative politicians?

Go beyond Greenwich borough and there’s many other urban sites across the country ripe for building.

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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

5 thoughts on “The Co-operative and housing: Why aren’t they building?

  • All these Greenwich Labour councillors are chronically Inept, not interested and lack any resolution for change, for much needed improvements. They aren’t interested in exerting pressure for much needed affordable housing.

    We need candidates for the people, champions for their local area and proud to live in the Royal Borough.

    Implement strategic plans and act on investing in our outdated neglected Public Realm.
    Creating Pedestrian friendly, decluttering of bollards, safety rails and weirdly positioned posts etc. Utilise S106/CIL and TFL funds.

    Lay the foundations For Greenwich Councils Meridian Home start to build our future housing at affordable rents and by helping the homeless.

    Not forgetting a workable process to combat illegal parking, abandonment of unwanted or untaxed vehicles blighting this borough.
    This would generate significant revenue.

  • The crisis (if there is one) lies with monetary policy. As long as CPI is used as the anchor to guide interest rate decisions, the supply of credit in to the mortgage market will grow faster than the real economy and inflate the price of housing. Since the official measure of inflation doesn’t take properly into account the price increases of the most valuable asset most people will ever buy, this is guaranteed to underestimate the reduction in people’s purchasing power. If you really care about “affordable” housing (whatever that really means) you should be lobbying the government to stop artificially reducing the price of money.

  • Back in the day many Labour cllrs grew up and lived in estates and knew hardship.

    Now many don’t. It’s full of wealthy middle class people. Even those that claim they did grow up poor are now comfortable. You’re more likely to find landlords than tenants across pretty much every political party. It’s a rich man (and womans game) game. If they really knew the difficulties of families on the breadline and moving every year they’d bust a gut and be ringing the co-op asap to find out what’s going on and using any influence they have.

    Changes of this happening? Zero probably given recent history.

  • Totally agree with you Ashley. The Greenwich Council Labour Councillors are simply not interested in affordable social housing to take tenants off the housing waiting list which grows day by day.

    They would rather spend £400,000 to buy one home at market value to house one family rather than spend the £400,000 building some blocks of flats at affordable rents to house several families. This is a great misuse of public funds and a huge waste of public money.


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