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Developer income to Greenwich Council: Latest figures released

Greenwich Council have revealed how much they received and spent over the last financial year via developer income.

When plans are approved a developer contributes money to mitigate the impact of development via Section 106 and its part-successor, the Community Infrastructure Levy.  It’s now a legal requirement to reveal details of how and where money is going. Until that became the case they were not routinely released despite totalling millions each year.

Public realm in Woolwich

In the last financial year new Section 106 agreements totalled £1,715,888. Income from previous agreements that was paid to the council in 2018/19 was £4,767,723. Spending over the year was £2,592,864.

Areas such as parks, streets, improving estates and public space continue to be all but ignored in most of the borough.

Bugsby’s Way, for example, saw £1,153 spent on “Legible London signage system as a way finding between Charlton station and new development in Woolwich Road.”

Ignored

The area doesn’t even have paving in places.

Bugsby’s Way lacks paving in places

The area has seen a litany of new developments with very little change.

Greenery including tree not maintained then removed

They did spend £541,192 on the “super crossing” outside the Royal Arsenal site in Woolwich. I’m not sure if that included removing trees and greenery along the central reservation. That project came under the Transport title rather than public realm.

The vast majority of S106 spending and allocation once again went to the council’s job agency Greenwich Local Labour and Business (GLLaB). Click here to see a full list.

Courtesy Google. Entrance to shopping parade on Abbey Wood estate

Greenwich Council reports on this subject routinely state that money can only be spent on “site-specific mitigation”. They often use that to excuse any spending beyond the immediate development. Yet we know from other authorities it can be spent within a wider area. Southwark have pooled income from S106 and done so for estate improvements:

And for park improvements:

Yet in Greenwich we are told it’s not possible. Southwark routinely discuss Section 106 income and spending at public planning meetings with it specifically listed on agendas. Greenwich Council do not.

Community Infrastructure Levy

This is the newish kid in town and has replaced S106 in a number of ways – though not entirely. Each development that is built has a set rate per square metre that is paid to the authority. In Greenwich it’s these totals:

In 2018/19, a total of £4.3 million in unspent funds from previous years was brought forward.

In the year they received another £3,143,365.39. Throughout the year they spent £2,496,945.96. Almost all of it went towards the Crossrail station costs in Woolwich as part of an agreement which saw the station built.

Woolwich Crossrail station

That leaves a balance of £3,494,119.84 after other commitments.

Given CIL has existed since 2015 they seem to lack a structure to spend funds that enter the general pot. Three years after introduction and the single biggest expenditure was just £27,000 despite £4.3 million in unspent funds being brought forward.

Public space is neglected in midst of new builds. Only spending is new bollards

They did spend £3,264 on Plumstead High Street. A couple more bollards presumably.

Given CIL can be spent in all these areas, why isn’t it in any great numbers?

Aside from the amount going into the general pot, under the Community Infrastructure Levy an authority must by law spend 15 per cent in the area development occurs. An authority can go beyond to 25 per cent spent locally as boroughs such as Lewisham and Southwark councils, but Greenwich have opted not to.

Lack of greenery at estate entrance off Norman Road in Greenwich

Even with a lower target for local spend they’re far from spend all income on the amount left over after the local fund and Woolwich Crossrail.

A lack of staffing could be an issue for why so much is lying unspent, yet under CIL rules they can allocate up to five per cent of income towards administration. They are not doing so. They are spending four per cent. Given we are talking about millions of pounds, one per cent equates to a number of staff that could see money allocated in a speedier manner towards health, housing, parks and much else – if hired.

Abbey Wood park

Click here to see the full CIL list for 2018/19.

Local funds

Greenwich are allocating up to £30,000 to local projects as part of the 15% allocated to local projects – as required by law. They’ve branded it the Greenwich Neighbourhood Fund and portray as a benevolent act rather than a legal necessity. It’s funding great projects, but there’s much more CIL could do. And capping spends at £30,000 means large scale projects are off-limits.

Park building in New Eltham

Ultimately these numbers will be of little surprise to those who see neglected parks, estates and public spaces on a daily basis. Last year I covered how just 0.7% of S106 income went towards parks.

Despite the authority batting away many questions and blaming TfL or others for many ills, much of it exists in land they control. The money is there. It’s just much is not being spent – and even when it is one area is receiving the vast majority to the detriment of just about all other areas.

street design is 30 years old

And to end, S106 and CIL doesn’t cover income from the New Homes Bonus. In 2018/19 that totalled £12.2 million to Greenwich Council from housebuilding.

In total, Section 106, Community Infrastructure Levy and New Homes Bonus  income from new developments brought the authority £24.3 million to spend in 2018/19. Much wasn’t spent.

 

 

 

 

12 Comments

  1. David N

    Looking at the S106 spend I don’t know where the £133k has gone on:

    “Legible London Signage and improvements to pedestrian and cycling access from IKEA development to and from Westcombe Park and Charlton Railway Stations and North Greenwich underground station”

    Tried walking from IKEA to Westcombe Park last week – didn’t see any signage – and found myself on the side of the dual carriageway!

  2. Ashley

    Greenwich Councils reluctance to spend S106/CIL funds is baffling. Where is all this money going? Needless to say on wasteful projects and failed upstarts Such as GLLAB, GSS and GPS. We should be promoting the greatness and wellbeing of this Royal Borough.

    The Realm is in dire need of investment, Poor outdated design and lack of maintenance as left this in disrepair.

    Surely, Less clutter is better, so lets dispose of all non pedestrian friendly street furniture.

    A Borough wide plan should be drawn up to envisage a ‘Better Streets’ campaign, to identify Where investment is most needed by ward. An initiative to Lay new footpaths, roads, streetlight upgrades to LED, landscape and maintain gardens, and improve our neglected estates.

    These are their main priorities, which are overlooked continuously by this failing, tired Labour administration.

    Change of Leadership, Party and new ideas by a new administration is needed.

  3. London boroughs are overwhelmingly Labour controlled, with the socially deprived boroughs particularly so. Greenwich Labour council is particularly poor in working for the people, but the electorate continues to vote for it. A Conservative administration would be no better. Don’t forget that it is the party of austerity.

    • Comment by post author

      fromthemurkydepths

      Both Labour and Tory boroughs have better track records at spending money, and making it public. I give the example of Southwark above. A Labour council that includes S106 agreements and allocations on planning meeting agendas regularly. Greenwich have never done this. Southwark allocate money to improve parks and estates aside from their local pot (which is also bigger than Greenwich) under CIL and also for S106. Greenwich spend next to nothing on estates.

      Southwark have major issues with estate regeneration granted, as do Greenwich (see woolwich estates scheme) but at least some estates benefit from developer income.

  4. Woolwicher

    What party would be better then? I always used to think lambeth council were pretty good when I lived there…

  5. Local governments are all run along the same lines and it doesn’t really matter which party is in control.

  6. CDT

    Some councils around the country have improved when Green Councilors for example have been elected on them as the do tend to fight on local issues affecting their Borough and the local environment. Brighton is a fine example.

    I will be changing my vote at the next Council elections as my Labour Party Councilors have done nothing in my area for years and years and I never see them.

    • Ashley

      Totally agree CDT. Labour has failed. 5 decades of what?

      Time for a change, Conservative all the way.

      • We now have a Conservative government with a solid majority. Let’s see how this translates to local politics. Don’t hold your breath for a Tory controlled Greenwich council or that it would be any better than Labour.

        • Ashley

          Only time will tell. All these Greenwich Labour councillors are chronically Inept, not interested and lack any resolution for change, for much needed improvements and investment.

  7. EthicsGradient

    Many worthwhile points made above, but meanwhile, in Tory held Bexley council, how many affordable homes were built last year, never mind actual social housing ?
    Answer: Zero.

    https://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/17429514.no-affordable-homes-built-in-bexley-last-year-despite-housing-crisis/

  8. EthicsGradient

    Btw. Fantastic cut & paste shilling operation at play here from Ashley and other local Tory activists on this and other posts. It’s becoming a little tedious now though …

    The editor and others above adopt a more informed and balanced view; which is most valuable as these questions are certainly pertinent.

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