Plans to build almost 1,300-homes on the site of Greenwich B&Q and above a car park serving Ikea’s car park have been withdrawn.
The news came from local councillor David Gardner today who stated:
“Delighted that London Square have now withdrawn their Peninsula Gardens application for B&Q and car park – hope they will come back with an enhanced lower-rise scheme with less parking working with local residents”.
There’s both plusses and minuses to any delay as plans are reworked.
Firstly, on the plus side, it may mean that any approval now comes after Community Infrastructure Levy rates are increased in Greenwich borough from very low levels by London standards. This will help to ensure additional millions in potential income to improve local streets, parks, health, education and more.
Greenwich sit near bottom for levy rates at sites in inner London and regularly prop up the table of amount collected across all London boroughs after they bizarrely chose to go extremely low in 2015 then didn’t revise in 2018 as promised. Rates are set to finally be revised by 2024.
That may also see funds to improve links to shops in Charlton – which this plan ignored.
The downside is a delay in badly needed new homes including truly affordable housing. Of the 1,290 homes planned, there were 324 planned at levels that aren’t “affordable” in name only but actually worthy of the title.
In a borough where the number of homeless households has doubled to 1,600 in just four years that would help a substantial number of people.
It’s all well and good cutting levels overall to, say, 600, but then truly affordable homes would also be cut in half during a housing crises.
That housing crises is seeing local and national government pay out huge sums for temporary accommodation.
Numbers could even be cut by a greater percentage more if developer London Square draw up a new Viability Report that states bigger cuts are required due to less market home sales.
That would be hugely damaging to many families as much temporary housing is located far from existing support networks, family, schools and employment.
Many people often state there should be more truly affordable homes on sites like this – but we don’t live in a country where that is possible right now. We live in a world where the planning system has Viability Assessments that permit developers to limit truly affordable housing and where grant funding for council housing doesn’t meet demand. And that doesn’t look like changing for some time.
In the current reality, when a development is submitted with 324 truly affordable homes for those in temporary accommodation or on the council waiting list it can be a lifeline.
That’s not to mention all the others for those who otherwise are living in houseshares as ever more family homes are subdivided.
It’s therefore hard to see how any downgrade in total homes on a car park and retail shed site in zone 2-3 as a win.
For many secure their own homes whether as home owner or a social tenant this may not be a big issue – but for ever more people in insecure housing it’s having a hugely detrimental impact on their life.
Cllr Gardner mentions local residents but this also places local people – many in secure housing – above those in need. Some of whom may well be former local people long since priced out. Over 300 social homes really could help many.
It should also be noted that other large developments nearby such as Knight Dragon plots and Greenwich Millennium Village feature far lower percentages of truly affordable homes than the proposal now withdrawn.
So now we await what happens. If we have another decade of car parking that does little for a severe and growing housing need. If we have a large housing reduction that too will benefit far fewer people.