Greenwich Council have again proved unsuccessful in attempts to obtain government funds to renovate Avery Hill winter garden in Eltham.
Lewisham council will see £19 million from the fund to boost Lewisham town centre.
One does wonder if the second Avery Hill bid was ever likely to succeed. The levelling up fund is supposed to be directed to more deprived areas. Eltham of course has areas of poverty, though is one of the more prosperous parts of the borough.
Its the kind of project that in other parts of London would utilise Community Infrastructure Levy funds at least in part, with levelling up bids generally reserved for areas of greater deprivation.
London also sees far lower funds per head of population from the fund than the rest of the country. Add all that and it was a long shot.
Other ideas are needed such as developer funds to assist. However Greenwich have made continual mistakes in obtaining greater CIL funds from a swath of new developments in the borough over the past decade, and so they lack revenue for projects such as at Avery Hill.
Firstly they set a very low CIL rate in 2015 across much of the borough. The planning inspector at the time capped levels in the east, but would have permitted higher rates west of Plumstead with a viability assessment at the time stating rates far above what Greenwich chose was possible. Greenwich did not take that chance. Then they failed to revise the low rate in 2018 despite it becoming clear they were far below their own expected revenue levels.
They expected to pay off a Crossrail bill for Woolwich station around 2018-19. As it is, they still haven’t ensuring no funds to be spent elsewhere.
Last year TfL revealed Greenwich were bottom in all of London for obtaining revenue. That’s despite being near the top for new homes constructed.
This year they won’t be bottom, but will again lag many other boroughs by substantial sums with details of revenue collected in 2021/22 beginning to trickle out across London.
Greenwich saw £3.3 million, while just over the river Newham saw £16 million. And that excludes much of Stratford where CIL income goes to the Olympic Delivery organisation.
Lewisham saw just over £6 million with comfortably fewer developments than Greenwich. Southwark obtained £13,149,475 last year. Tower Hamlets was at £15,873,093
These sizable gaps happen every year. For a decade, Greenwich has lagged fellow London councils in revenue culminating in a vast gap now existing to many.
Even when boroughs like Lambeth at £3.9m are not that far ahead, they’ve already gone through the process of revising rates which should show a large increase this coming year.
Avery Hill winter garden is a wonderful space and sorely needs funds, though it seems an odd position to rely on levelling up funds to do so. If they’d revised CIL some years ago at promised, the council wouldn’t be reliant on speculative bids and the whims of Whitehall.
On the upside, after a decade of low CIL revenue Greenwich Council are finally set to revise charges levied on developers. Next comes consultation and then sign-off from the planning inspector before adoption of new levies.
Assuming all goes well, that should greatly help from 2024, though in the recent past many millions of income have very likely been squandered as many large-scale developments approved. See a number in late 2022 in Woolwich that will benefit from the Elizabeth line.
That means Greenwich could again be last or thereabouts once again in 2022/23 for revenue to benefit services and facilities.