Proposals for 80 new council homes on the Brook Estate were last night approved by Greenwich Council’s Planning Board at the second time of asking.
The contentious plan covering an area at the edges of Eltham and Kidbrooke will see homes and a commercial unit built on green space within the estate, while other areas of greenery will see investment. The two hour long meeting – which can be viewed here – passed by six votes to one with a further three abstentions.
A first meeting deferred a decision for a site visit, which was subsequently cancelled due to covid. In place a serious of images of the area shown on screen. A local campaign group named Save the Brooke complained that the council had not been accommodating to alternative proposals and engagement.
Kidbrooke and Hornfair Labour councillor David Stanley argued for fewer homes here and more at other sites, though there are a limited number of public sites – in part as Greenwich Council has previously sold off public land and buildings for short term gain. With the housing waiting list now up to nearly 20,000, households in emergency accommodation rising rapidly to 1,446 in late 2020 and housing budget overruns into the millions, there is an argument that all possible sites need utilising.
Using sites suitably?
A severe level of need for secure housing makes proposals to build just 27 additional social homes at large-scale projects on public land – such as a new leisure centre and housing in central Woolwich containing up to 500 homes – so problematic. People will naturally wonder why their green space is taken when such minimal numbers are planned elsewhere, including other sites such as Plumstead where low density housing and extensive car parking was constructed last year in the midst of mid-density buildings near a station and bus routes.
It’s also understandable for people to be wary of areas only receiving investment in neglected estates when losing green space is on offer. This plot isn’t too far from the giant Kidbrooke Village estate and a major housing scheme from TfL yet next to no Section 106 or Community Infrastructure Levy income from those sites has improved the estate – an all too familiar story in Greenwich borough.
Just this month, Southwark Council once again show how Section 106 can improve communities as these plans were highlighted in a planning meeting:
Greenwich Council meetings never openly discuss Section 106 spending as a dedicated item on planning agendas.
Perhaps if Greenwich did follow many other London authorities and invest in long-derived and neglected areas, they would face less opposition? To only offer something when taking something away is bound to cause irritation.
There will be two zebra crossings as Greenwich claim TfL will object to pelican crossings. We’ve long heard this from Greenwich who like to blame TfL for many ills – despite Greenwich liking to insist on vastly outdated design with street work which often contravenes TfL’s own design guidance.
Perhaps TfL will object given current financial pressures though this is something Greenwich Council have stated for years which my experience in other authorities does not bear out – suggesting the issue is within Greenwich Council.
New homes will require regular parking enforcement – and Greenwich have a lamentable record here.
ShedKM are behind designs which are similar in appearance to other sites across the borough. Many recent plans are ShedKM deisngs and recieved a luke-warm reception compared to Peter Barber’s previous design at various sites built in 2018-2019 including at nearby Jack’s Acre.
We again see attractive landscaping but the question is raised of who will maintain?
Building work on site should begin later this year and provide homes to 80 families. At current rates of growth in emergency need, that is about just 2-4 weeks of demand, which goes to highlight the severe issues and costs of the housing crises.