Greenwich Council’s consultation on a new Woolwich leisure centre to replace Waterfront has just two days to run.
The plan will see Waterfront close and a new leisure centre built on the site of Wilko which closed just over a week ago. alongside home. Only 50 new council homes planned on a vast site and nearly half of those will go towards tenants evicted from the current site resulting in just 27 new homes. This is just five per cent of new homes across the overall site. This is despite income from selling the Waterfront car park where towers are now rising, and future income from selling the current Thames-side site.
Very few social homes on site comes despite an increase in households placed in emergency accommodation over recent months with an increase to 1446 and nearly 20,000 on the council housing waiting list.
Millions are regularly having to be found for emergency housing costs. Costs pressure on the authority through a lack of social housing have increased from £4 million a year in 2014/15 to £13.1 million in 2019.
It appears no homes whatsoever are planed above any of the leisure centre site on half the overall plot, which seems an enormous waste of precious public land in a town centre site during a housing crises. All proposed homes are located to the rear – which is likely to be a key factor in providing so few truly affordable homes.
If I had to hazard a guess, Greenwich are to fund the leisure centre plot via income derived from selling riverside land (with no homes included) then sell land to the rear to a developer who will provide a small number of social homes as part of the deal. Ultimately local people gain less than an optimal amount from this arrangement; one leisure centre closes and another opens and a small number of truly affordable homes are built. Overall housing levels – including market sales to cross-subsidise – would be less than optimal.
All options considered?
Since plans were first on the drawing board (this scheme has seen numerous delays over the years) options have opened up for councils such as the removal of a borrowing cap alongside council developer Meridian Home Start undertaking more development including finally starting mid-rise plots – though it looks like leisure centre plans are stuck in a time before these changes. I should stress there is so little information from the council this isn’t definitive but a hunch based on prior actions.
If the authority link-up with a Housing Association Right to Buy income can be used to provide social housing on site rather than buying market homes at a higher cost according to Greenwich Council’s own figures, with 30 per cent funded by RtB income and 70 per cent Housing Association. Such a low total of social homes suggests this isn’t being undertaken.
The consultation also asks whether the Bull Tavern pub should be retained or demolished.
Images in the consultation are extremely low resolution and it’s hard to make out certain details – including whether the plan makes any provision for future development at TfL DLR plots nearby that are still undeveloped after 12 years.
Ultimately, just 10 per cent truly affordable housing and a net addition of just 27 homes on such a plot during a time of great need – which is costing local taxpayers vast sums – does not seem a wise use of land. A net addition of 27 new homes is around two weeks worth of households being housed in expensive emergency housing at the current rate of uptake
Have your say here.
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