Council to take on 199 Greenwich Millennium Village homes as council housing

Greenwich Council look set to spend £53 million on providing 199 homes at Greenwich Millennium Village.

A report shows homes within two blocks will be purchased at 403 and 203. The below image shows plots on site.

Overview of Greenwich Millennium Village plots

Plot 203 has recently been built while 403 has yet to begin. That site was covered back in January 2021 alongside others approved at the time.

Homes are being purchased using a mix of Section 106, Housing Revenue Account borrowing and Greater London Authority grant funding.

Future site of plot 203

The report states in regards to Plot 403:

“To approve the Council enters into a Development Agreement and Agreement to Lease with Taylor Wimpey in the value of £19,700,000 for the receipt of 99 new HRA homes, to be let at social rent, at Block 403 in Greenwich Millennium Village.”

Plot 203 is tower at rear of image

And on Plot 203 (already completed):

“To approve the Council enters into a Development Agreement and Agreement to Lease with Taylor Wimpey in the value of £50,670,000 for the receipt of 100 new HRA homes, to be let at social rent, at Block 203 in Greenwich Millennium Village.”

Both plots will see the council needing to pay a service charge.

Demand

The background to this is a soaring number of households in emergency and temporary accommodation in the borough, which is a trend seen both across the country and the UK.

Homeless household numbers in Greenwich borough. Numbers now at 1,800

Sites like GMV were approved with minimal amounts of social housing exacerbating the problem.

A shortage of homes has then seen short term accommodation used including hotels. In October 2023 it emerged Greenwich Council are spending £800,000 each month on Travelodge hotel rooms.

In addition the homeless household total in the borough stood at 1,800 compared to 443 in 2015/16 and up 13.5 per cent on the previous year.

A further 33 homes are set to be purchased in Woolwich on Sandy Hill Road.

Financial sense?

Compared to paying high costs for hotels and emergency housing this move makes some sense but at a wider level it’s symbolic of how dysfunctional housing is in the UK.

Rather than councils or public bodies developing directly we see public money buying homes from private developers after they’ve made a profit generally in the ballpark of 20 per cent. That’s big sums. In 2022 Taylor Wimpey made a profit of £923.4 million.

Public authorities building directly on public land would lessen costs allowing funds to go further in providing secure homes and reducing pressure on public finances. According to the report GMV for example, is “being delivered by Taylor Wimpey and the development site is owned by the GLA”.

Just five per cent of homes at forthcoming Woolwich leisure centre and housing site will be net social home increase

We’ve seen plenty of examples of public land being sold on with no social homes in recent years or developed at levels of unaffordability for those on minimum or low wages. See Pocket Living in Charlton. See the combined leisure centre and residential site in Woolwich that see’s an increase of just 24 new council homes out of almost 500 set to be built.

For many years private developers have done extremely well out of the public purse while taxpayers and those in need of good quality housing lose out.

This latest move will help some of course and is much better than living in a hotel – but not as many as a sensible development strategy could. For that we need further serious government reform, and that seems unlikely.

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J 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.

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