Greenwich services miss out as EVEN less developer income seen despite being last in London

Greenwich Council have collected even less income from developers over the latest financial year despite trailing all boroughs in the capital the previous year.

Earlier this year a TfL report stated Greenwich were at the foot of the table in 2019/20 despite large amounts of new housing and development in the borough which should have helped bring a windfall for beleaguered services.

Congested Creek Road in Greenwich
New builds in Greenwich and Deptford to rear

TfL highlighted the gulf by stating how much various boroughs had received in 2019/20:

  • Westminster: £36.9m
  • Wandsworth: £32m
  • Brent: £26.5m
  • Tower Hamlets: £23.3m
  • Greenwich: £1.3m

Here’s the extract:

TfL report highlighted Greenwich as last in London

The latest year sees even less collected with just £1,016,563 collected in Borough CIL.

UPDATE: While not a London authority, Dartford have released their income (£7.1 million) and have done so before any council in London. Then Southwark revealed £13.5 million. Both vastly outnumber Greenwich. I will keep tabs on other authorities to see if Greenwich are again trailing many others despite high levels of development.

While allowances have been made for the pandemic and delayed payment from developers of the Community Infrastructure Levy to fund public services, these latest figures are extremely poor.

New homes in Kidbrooke now underway

After TfL revealed how poorly Greenwich were doing, Greenwich Council officers eventually drew up a misleading report for councillors stating they collected more than neighbouring Lewisham by failing to include like-for-like figures and ignoring the latest years figures for Lewisham.

In September 2021 a report from Council Officers before Greenwich councillors gave incorrect data to the council’s Scrutiny Panel

Lewisham received £15.9 million in Borough CIL from 2015/16 to 2019/20. Greenwich saw £8.4 million.

However Greenwich’s report put themselves above Lewisham. This was only achieved by entirely ignoring the latest year’s figure for Lewisham but not Greenwich. In reality, at £8.4 million in Greenwich verses £15.9 million in Lewisham, Greenwich are some way behind when 2019/20 was included. Why it wasn’t in a report produced by Greenwich for councillors in September 2021 was a mystery.

This latest £1 million does little to improve the situation.

Kidbrooke work

I covered this subject in much more detail including links to various council reports and screenshots which can be seen here.

The low amount collected – both as a whole since 2015 and last year – also ensures the target to pay TfL for Woolwich station fit-out by 2023 will be missed.

That cost has often been used by some councillors to explain why so little income from developers has been spent to improve services in the borough, however the bigger issue is collecting so little to begin with.

Woolwich towers

Even without allocation towards Crossrail the council are collecting extremely minimal sums compared to other London authorities – and have been for six years now.

Another excuse sometimes given is developments and masterplans predate CIL. However recent payments show this isn’t true, and even masterplans drawn up before have been altered and developments now liable.

In addition, section 106 income would be expected to be high as latter phases begin. Yet s106 income has been low for some years now.

Greenwich have not utilised ways to increase income since 2015, such as increased staffing to collect income owed. CIL rules permit allocating additional funding for administration. Greenwich set it at four per cent instead of five. Just one per cent of millions of pounds annually would fund staff to pursue funding being missed. It’s a false economy not to allocate the full five per cent.

Recently built Woolwich blocks
Investigation

When Greenwich staff finally did some searches into CIL income – including using methods as basic as Google Maps to view completed developments – they quickly found £1.8 million uncollected. It’s likely to be more as Greenwich are often in the top five boroughs in London for new housing and commercial space.

Greenwich have also never adjusted CIL payment rates from developers to the authority since 2015 in contrast to other London boroughs, and avoided placing CIL charges on certain types of development.

Bexley CIL rates

Bexley, for example, levy a token £10 per square metre for “all other uses”. Greenwich do not.

Newham seeking to update totals

The Mayor even lowered his share of CIL in Greenwich from £35 per square metre to £25 per square metre in 2019 permitting Greenwich to increase their rates with no impact on developers.

They did not do so.

Community Fund

By law councils must give at least 15 per cent of Borough CIL income to local areas. Many boroughs such as Lewisham have gone above to 25 per cent.

Greenwich stuck to 15 per cent and split the borough into four areas to spend this sum though the Greenwich Neighbourhood Fund.

It’s achieved some wonderful local projects yet imagine what could be gained if Greenwich Council had collected greater CIL income and moved towards the London average rather than sitting at the foot of the table.

High levels of development in the borough would have ensured far higher sums available and improvements from Abbey Wood to Greenwich, and Woolwich to Eltham.

It’s been squandered.

What should be

Let’s look at Brent as an example. Wembley is seeing high levels of housing and development which helps explain £26.5 million income in 2019/20 alone.

Brent is not too dissimilar in terms of proximity to central London. If Greenwich collected that level it would need to pay £13.25 million to fund Crossrail, yet leaves £13.25 million available.

Fifteen per cent of that for local projects in Greenwich borough would ensure £2,025,000 alone in one year alone. More than Greenwich allocated at £1.7 million in total over six years.

Two Abbey Wood towers commenced 2020

Then we have all the other projects that could have been funded; public realm, real improvements to reduce carbon and active travel rather than endless reports, health, schools, high streets and town centres and much more.

Abbey Wood estate approach to main shopping parade. Not far from new towers. Classic use of failing to improve deprived areas near new development and resultant income

As it is many areas are being ignored due to chronic failures to collect money dating back more than half a decade.

The report also covers the other major source of funds from developments to authorities in Section 106.

We know again and again this fund also ignores key upgrades such as improve walking and cycling links. The latest figures will be covered in an upcoming post.

 

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John Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

9 thoughts on “Greenwich services miss out as EVEN less developer income seen despite being last in London

  • December 8, 2021 at 4:34 pm
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    Is there anything the public can do to get these bums to do their job? Many are in safe seats, is there a judicial review or other option for failing so dismally and costing residents millions?

    Reply
  • December 8, 2021 at 6:04 pm
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    Totally agree, are we powerless to investigate this? Nothing less than a scandal of wasted opportunities for council income from greedy developers to help offset the cuts we suffer Funds council leaders are failing to collect which could assist in the goals of funding local means of achieving pollution reductions, such as safer/cleaner travel, and helping avoid traffic black-spots such as Trafalgar Road, an almost constant traffic jam. An investigation into the leaders ‘apparent lack of skills’ in squeezing funds from developers pockets here is essential.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2021 at 6:55 pm
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    Incompetent beyond belief.

    A developer free for all for which locals see little due to clownshow in the council and leadership.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2021 at 8:01 pm
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    John you’ve brought attention to this issue many times over the past few years, reading articles on this topic always leaves me feeling very annoyed and frustrated.

    As JR and Mr Small have already commented what is it that we as the public can do to increase pressure on those responsible?

    Reply
    • December 8, 2021 at 8:02 pm
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      Write to your cllrs for one. See what they respond with and what officers tell you then let me know. We desperately need more cllrs that actually scrutinise and look through officers and leadership nonsense.

      Reply
  • December 9, 2021 at 9:42 am
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    All these Greenwich Labour councillors are chronically Inept, not interested and lack any judgement in bettering this Borough and ensuring much needed funds are collected and spent on the Public Realm and estates around the Royal Borough.

    Reply
    • December 9, 2021 at 9:45 am
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      Not all. Some care. Many however are silent and/or do not push to find out what’s happening. The sheer gulf with other boroughs should lead them to ask what’s going on.

      Reply
  • December 9, 2021 at 3:42 pm
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    ‘That cost has often been used by some councillors to explain why so little income from developers has been spent to improve services in the borough, however the bigger issue is collecting so little to begin with.’ That’s a classic catch 22, but non-collection is a deliberate ploy by the council. After all, it can’t spend money it doesn’t have.

    Greenwich is a big borough, but most of the voters are apathetic and not “interested in politics”. A vocal minority has no impact on council policies.

    Reply
  • December 9, 2021 at 3:53 pm
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    That could be said for many areas. I’m not sure Brent is much different for example.

    It’s an odd ploy if so, and not one practiced by other Labour authorities in London.

    Reply

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