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For a more affordable Southwark

Camberwell Road

With the redevelopment of the nearby Aylesbury and Elmington estates now under full steam, epic regeneration has now officially landed in Camberwell.

166-178 Camberwell Road

This is announced at the top end of Camberwell road, where a number of period buildings have been demolished to make way for a major new development comprising 222sqm of retail space, 516sqm of art studios/gallery and 84 residential units.

Period buildings and shops now demolished on corner Camberwell/Wyndham road

The developer is the profit-making development arm of A2Dominion. This is the housing association that featured in our last blog post, which had provided affordable rent instead of social rent in its redevelopment of the Colorama warehouse in SE1.

Construction currently underway for A2Dominion

The Council’s planning report for the development, confirms consent for 82 new homes of which 10 were supposed to be social rented. However, A2Dominion’s press release for the development describes these 10 units as ‘affordable rented’ homes - and so the sleight of hand is effected.

Crown St Depot redevelopment

Behind A2Dominion’s development lies another major redevelopment - the Crown Street depot. This is now home to a development that provides 69 new homes, the planning report for which confirms that just 7 of these will be social rented - not appropriate provision for development on what used to be public land.

Crown Street Depot redevelopment

240 Camberwell Road

Further down the road is 240 Camberwell Road, which used to be home to Scena Ltd - a joinery manufacturer which has since been forced to relocate to Croydon.

240 Camberwell Road before demolition

The site was also home to a drop-in centre for Bleheim CDP a charity providing support for people with drug and alcohol addiction problems.

240 Camberwell Road demolished

The planning report for the application confirms that neither the commercial space nor the community space occupied by the charity will be re-provided in the redevelopment or off-site.

It also confirms that of the 164 new homes on the site, just 18 will be social rented (11%).

CGI of proposed new development at 240 Camberwell Road

Peabody’s Camberwell Rd/Medlar St development

Further down the road still, Peabody has demolished a number of period buildings on two sites opposite the Bingo Hall and across from Camberwell Green.

buildings on Camberwell road demolished by Peabody

In November 2012, Peabody was granted planning permission to build 66 homes on this two-part site of which 14 would be social rent and 6 affordable rent (up to 80% market rent).

Peabody’s Camberwell/Medlar Street site

However, in April 2015 Peabody wrote to the Council explaining that despite GLA funding and a £2m expected windfall due to the property market upturn, it would need to reduce the number of social rented units because it had incurred £997,000 in unforeseen costs of asbestos removal during site remediation. As a result, 6 of the 4-beds and 3 of the social rented 3-beds that were originally consented will instead be sold as private housing, leaving just 5 social rented homes in the entire development.

CGI of Peabody’s Camberwell road redevelopment

This comes as little surprise to us. We have blogged previously about the extent to which housing associations are gaming the system in Southwark, using a number of techniques to switch social to affordable rent post planning approval - often in breach of planning consent. Peabody has previous in this respect, with its Borough Triangle redevelopment, where it is trying to pass off 78 affordable rented homes as social rent.

Camberwell on the Green

As we reach Camberwell, overlooking the green we are confronted with a development branded ‘Camberwell on the Green’.

This development is being built by singapore developer Frasers on the site of the former Job Centre and comprises 1,335 sqm of new shop frontage along with 101 new residential units.

Former Jobcentre - now demolished

As part of its planning application, the developer submitted the customary viability assessment claiming poverty and successfully argued that the development could not support any social rented housing. Instead it will provide just 16 shared ownership units as the entirety of its affordable housing offer.

The planning report for the application (submitted in 2012) said that there would be a review mechanism secured in the section 106 agreement, to ensure that the affordable housing offer would be increased in line with any increase in property market values.(para 131)

However, planning control information shows that no such viability review has been undertaken.

CGI of ‘Camberwell on the Green’ development

Indeed, the developer’s website for the development says there will be “92 private apartments”, in contrast to the planning report which consented 85 private homes and 16 (‘affordable’) shared ownership units.

Paragraph 135 of the planning report sums up the extent of the Council’s failure to secure any meaningful planning gain from this major development in a prime location. It confirms that the entire planning gain amounts to a paltry £573k. This is the sum total of the development’s contribution to transport, public realm, health and community facilities.

The development is expected to complete later this year. Meanwhile flats are being marketed in Hong Kong and start at £446k for a studio flat.

Camberwell Green Care Home

Meanwhile the Council has announced that it will close Camberwell Green Care Home. What will become of this site in its prime location overlooking the green is anyone’s guess..