Greenwich Council have put out a press release highlighting the completion of one phase of their One Woolwich project which sees affordable homes reduced from c.1,000 to 368.
Overall housing increases from 1,064 to 1,615, yet just 35 per cent of that is “affordable”. That includes shared-ownership at expense far beyond council house levels.
The council’s spin machine is turned up to 11 on this one.
Homeless households in the borough have doubled since work begun on demolishing and rebuilding estates, reaching a high of 1528 in recent months.
In Q1 2018/19 households in temporary accommodation stood at 740:
The first phase of the project saw Connaught estate demolished and replaced with just 167 social homes.
The second stage is Morris Walk. This stage sees a reduction in council housing from around 500 to also 167. Exact figures of former council homes have not been revealed by Greenwich but right-to-buy totals were low with most homes still in council ownership upon demolition).
Greenwich are spinning it as “253 affordable homes” as nearly 100 hundred are shared ownership. With a mortgage, rent and then service charges this is well beyond the reach of many, including 23,000 on the council’s waiting list and 1,528 households in emergency housing.
The reality is a mass reduction in truly affordable housing.
When the council leader was asked about this, he appeared to deny a reduction in social homes.
The council’s story features three quotes:
“Cllr Danny Thorpe, Leader of Royal Borough of Greenwich, said: “Woolwich Estates has already built hundreds of state-of-the-art, energy efficient homes while sparking job creation and economic growth. Located right at the heart of Woolwich it’s already become a thriving new community with homes that mean more young people and families can stay in our borough.”
If you ignore all those forced into temporary accommodation and out of London by the mass reduction in council homes then I guess “more young people and families can stay in our borough”.
“Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Anthony Okereke said: “Woolwich Estates, alongside our Greenwich Builds council home-building programme and Meridian Home Start partnership, demonstrates how we are utilising every option to build more affordable housing for local people and replace housing was in poor condition. We’re proud of what our collaboration with Lovell has already achieved and I look forward to welcoming even more residents into brand new homes they can be truly proud of, when Trinity Park and Trinity Rise are finished too.”
Woolwich Builds totals 750 homes over four years, so given 650 were lost at just three Woolwich estates there’s barely any net increase which is why the waiting list and temporary housing total continue to rocket.
Now of course central Government policy has a huge part to play in this, but Greenwich’s glowing way of portraying it in PR is a kick in the teeth for many.
The estates were in poor shape, and it’s arguable there were constraints when drawn up in the late 2000s, yet they aren’t revising plans during latter phases but instead continue to spend tens of millions on market homes at far higher cost per unit.
That also applies with the council’s borrowing cap removed which could assist with additional council homes. Remember this is all public land – or was until Lovell joined.
The council’s story continues:
“Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Good Growth Cllr Denise Scott-McDonald said: “Woolwich is a priority area for the Council. We are investing in a brand-new leisure centre, Tramshed theatre and the town centre to help it recover from the pandemic and transform the area into a vibrant place to live, work and shop. Many local people have been employed on-site during construction, with a significant number of jobs and training opportunities created locally. Over 90 apprentices are set to be trained over the course of the 12-year regeneration programme.”
They had to get GLLaB in there.
Best ignore all the local long-neglected estates that see little from numerous new-builds in Woolwich.
Huge amounts to GLLaB have also ensured that the One Woolwich project ignores pedestrian movements and safe walking links. Greenwich declined to build a new bridge over a rail line linking each half of Morris Walk estate.
Thus this is where the design leads hundreds of residents on the southern half of the site when attempting to reach numerous bus routes:
For those unaware, Greenwich allocated £250,000 for improvements out of nearly £8 million income via Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy.
Never enough for a new bridge. Network Rail told them so.
Greenwich then reduced their offer to £62,500 and removed the obligation for accessibility improvements.
They really thought a crumbling 1960s bridge was sufficient alongside the dingy underpass for thousands of new residents.
I can’t think why, but the council’s press release doesn’t mention all this?
Expect it to be rehashed fully though in the old legacy press. They can always rely on them.