Published: Monday, 26th November 2018
We've launched a consultation on whether four plots of Royal Greenwich land on three estates should be sold for low cost housing.
Amid ongoing Government cuts to local authority budgets, the sale will generate money for the Council to be split between estate improvements and funding 750 new Council homes across Royal Greenwich.
We propose to sell these pieces of land to a Mayor of London-funded company called Pocket Living, which specialises in building homes for those with below-average incomes, like nurses and teachers. Pocket ensures through contracts that the homes are kept permanently low cost by limiting the prices that they can be resold for.
The consultation asks if people support the idea or not, for views on how the Royal Borough can respond to the housing crisis, and what respondents would do instead to help fund the construction of much-needed new Council housing.
If the proposed sale goes ahead, we have committed to:
- spending 20 per cent of the receipt on improvements to each of the three estates affected by the proposals - this could be more depending on the final deal
- use the rest of the money from the sale to help fund Greenwich's plans to build 750 new Council homes.
Pocket Living could build approximately 150 homes across the four sites.
The parcels identified for this sale currently consistent of underused car parking garages and spaces on:
- The Heights Estate (approximately 45 homes)
- Kidbrooke Park Estate (approximately 46 homes)
- Orchard Estate (approximately 60 homes).
Why we are consulting
Before we take the final decision as to whether to sell this land, we want to hear your views about the proposed sale and develop these ideas with you. At this stage, we would like your views on several aspects of these proposals. We want to know:
- what you think of the proposals and hear how you think we could improve them
- your ideas about how to improve access to housing in the borough
- your ideas for improving your estate
We will also be speaking with people who live on the estates, and those in surrounding areas that may be affected by the development.
Cllr Chris Kirby, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "The housing crisis has meant thousands of people on waiting lists across the borough, and I would strongly urge you to take part in this consultation so we have a clear idea of how to go about building a new generation of Council housing. We also need to provide first-time buyer homes for those on low incomes, so that local public services can continue to have a local workforce."
How to get involved
The formal Council consultation lasts six weeks and closes on Monday 7 January 2019. Residents on the estates will receive a letter from our team and a questionnaire will be hosted online.
To ensure that estate residents were kept informed of the proposals in advance of the consultation the Council hosted drop-in sessions on each of the three estates from 19 to 22 November. We would like to thank all of the residents that contributed their views at the recent drop-in sessions where your feedback was extremely useful.
Below are some answers to issues raised at the drop-in sessions:
Why could the Council not keep this land and develop it itself?
We need to consider a broad range of different housing options, with this proposed development offering homes to purchase for local first-time buyers such as teachers and nurses, otherwise known as key workers. The money from this sale will contribute towards our plans to build 750 Council homes across the borough.
What process has taken place to ensure that Royal Greenwich are achieving the best possible value for the land in selling the land to Pocket Living?
Pocket Living is a Mayor of London-funded company that differs from traditional developers in that they specialise in building low cost homes that are permanently discounted from market rates. Selling the sites to Pocket Living means that not only will all the housing built on the three sites be well below market rates, but will also provide funds to build new council homes. The value of the sites that Pocket Living are buying from the Council will be market value, checked by auditors.
What effect will the proposed development have on local parking?
We recognise that each proposed development will have an impact on parking provision on each site. A comprehensive parking survey has been commissioned to give a clear picture of the current position and to provide recommendations to minimise the impact of the proposed development.
Will the Council add a 'no parking' clause to the lease for the Pocket owners?
Yes, all new developments are car-free under planning policy apart from those homes reserved for disabled residents who require a car.
What will the Council do about construction disruption, including noise, pollution, and traffic?
The Council expects Pocket Living to address concerns about construction disruption during the planning application through the submission of a construction management plan.
How will the Council ensure that the development minimises the impact of loss of light / privacy?
Concerns around natural light and privacy will be considered as part of the planning application process if the land sale is confirmed.
What do Pocket Living homes look like?
That is a matter for planning and will be subject to a full planning process if the sale goes ahead. Pocket Living have developed in other boroughs and so images of their buildings are available on their website.
How will local services such as GPs, schools and nurseries cope with the increase in population?
The homes designed by Pocket Living are one-bedroom homes aimed at single residents and couples meaning that population increase will be minimised.
How will Royal Greenwich ensure the needs of vulnerable residents are considered as part of the construction?
As part of the consideration of any planning application local residents will be consulted and their views taken into consideration as part of the assessment and determination of the planning application.
Who has oversight of this process and makes the final decision?
The outcome of the public consultation will form an important part of the decision-making process. The final decision will be taken by council officers and Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Chris Kirby, in early 2019.