Since Peabody absorbed Gallions Housing Association in Thamesmead seven years ago they’ve hardly covered themselves in glory with those on the ground in the area.
Politicians and the media are often taken with their slick PR, but for residents its another story.
One major aspect is sloth-like progress at building thousands of new homes at various plots. Residents have been kicked out, shops closed against owner’s wishes and then, well, nothing happens.
Some sites were already all-but-flattened when they took over (officially it was a merger but in reality a takeover) in 2014 while others saw empty buildings sit for years until eventually flattened before land left empty.
A couple of weeks ago I went to visit the first major site Peabody are completing. So far around 150 homes are ready. Add that to 60-odd at another site in Thamesmead and they’ve so far managed just over 200 out of 3,000 promised as part of Housing Zones in seven years.
There’s other sites they own that are lying empty for years outside the official Housing Zones, and I’ll get to the latest on them shortly.
The first 150 homes and public space has much to commend it, yet as the planned heart of the town just how viable are shop units when surrounded by large, empty plots as the Housing Association fail to build?
Directly next to Southmere Village is the former Binsey Walk. Another deadline has come and gone there.
Southmere Village Phase 2 is the renamed Binsey Walk, and it was supposed to start on site in March 2021.
Of course there’s been the pandemic, but Peabody have yet to even consult to any great degree let alone reveal detail plans and submit them before approval.
They were well behind even before March 2020. If they intended to start on site in March 2021, much of that prior process would have been underway. It wasn’t.
Failure to have a rolling construction program risks Phase 1 sitting in isolation, with commercial units sitting empty through lack of footfall.
At a previous consultation Peabody stated they were intending to charge market rent to business. Let’s hope anyone thinking of creating a business are aware of a lack of footfall given large vacant plots on two sides to to Peabody inaction.
It’s widely suspected this has ensured that eyes are off the ball and hampered what should be their core requirement to provide housing. In the meantime many have been evicted from homes, communities spread far and wide and now continual delays in residents moving back if they ever do so.
Outside of the core Housing Site zones lies other Peabody owned land such as the former Harrow Inn at Abbey Wood.
It’s currently a messy wasteland and eyesore. Planning permission has actually been submitted and approved here. Nothing is happening.
Back to Thamesmead and hundreds of homes were brought down along Harrow Manorway over the past two years scattering more residents far and wide.
Peabody have again submitted no detailed plans to rebuild the area.
They missed deadline after deadline for submitting plans, then when they got around to it outline plans were submitted. It’ll be some time until subsequent detailed plans are submitted let alone building commencing.
I’ve watched a few Peabody video calls and consultations and beyond the slick presentation, the substance was woeful. Timelines are almost beyond belief at nearly two decades to build housing on some plots when aren’t that large.
I havn’t even got onto other plots where Peabody have said absolutely nothing whatsoever. The large plots along Harrow Manorway and Binsey Walk have had talk if little action.
Other sites havn’t even had talk.
There’s little doubt Peabody have let thousands of people down in Abbey Wood and Thamesmead. They’ve evicted large numbers and not built. Eyesores sit in prime sites. Worse, they don’t even have plans in places.
Will any politician start calling them out or continual to get taken in by that slick PR?
And when will politicians learn that offering numerous plots to a single developer is a recipe for slow building? The last thing needed with rising amounts of homeless households and a housing shortage.