The regeneration comprises a number of different sites, just under half of which was in the freehold ownership of the Council.
L&Q was granted permission in 2011 for the construction of 7 blocks comprising 366 residential units. Having submitted a viability assessment claiming it couldn’t afford to provide the requisite 35% affordable housing, L&Q was permitted to provide just 25% affordable housing.
The Officer’s report for the application justified the reduced level by claiming that at least the 25% will be a policy compliant mix, including truly social rented homes at ‘target rent’.
However, the section 106 agreement signed in relation to the planning consent says that rents for the social rented units should be determined according to the HCA’s formula for affordable rents (i.e. up to 80% market rent).
Furthermore, L&Q’s website now describes the social housing at Quebec Quarter as ‘affordable rent’:
Besides having emphasised that the social rented units would be truly ‘target rent’ social rents, the officer’s report also promised that there would be a review mechanism inserted into the section 106 agreement to capture any uplift in the property market between consent and implementation.
However, according to the Council’s planning portal there has been no such viability review, despite the significant increase in property prices since the scheme was consented in 2011.
Canada Water Sites A&B
This first phase of the Canada Water regeneration comprised 9 buildings ranging up to 26 storeys, providing 668 residential units of which 47 are shared ownership and 123 are ‘affordable rent’ of up to 80% market rent.
The developer was barratts, which has branded the development ‘Maple Quays’ and the housing association is Affinity Sutton, which has come under fire elsewhere for abandoning its social aims in favour of more corporate ones.
The planning case report for the planning application behind this development, informed the general public and committee members that it would provide 123 social rented homes:
However, when the section 106 legal agreement was drawn up, there was no mention of social rented housing - only ‘affordable rent’ (i.e. 80% market rent):
Former Cabinet member for Regeneration Fiona Colley was responsible for overseeing the delivery of sites A&B. She was so happy with the scheme that she bought (and then sold) no less than two of the new-build flats on this phase off-plan1.
Canada Water Site C
Site C is the footprint of the former Decathlon sports superstore and garden centre behind it. The site was purchased with extant planning permission by Shard developer Sellar in 2010 for £16m.
The extant permission was for 430 homes of which 74 would be social rented. Southwark council had stood firm on this original application by insisting that the site could support 28% affordable housing at the policy compliant tenure mix (shared ownership/social rented).
Having bought the sites for £16m in 2010, Sellar immediately started lobbying to change the planning policy parameters for the site to increase the density and reduce the affordable housing requirements.
3 months after signing the section 106 agreement, Sellar signed a contractual agreement with Notting Hill Housing. The agreement put the site under the new ownership of a joint venture shell company created by Sellar and Notting Hill (‘PROJECT LIGHT DEVELOPMENT LIMITED’). The Land Registry title register shows the scheme as having been bought by PROJECT LIGHT DEVELOPMENT from Sellar for a staggering £48m - £32m more than the £16m Sellar paid for it 4 years prior. This clever accounting manoeuver inflates the scheme’s development cost by inflating the land price, subsequently reducing the viability of the scheme and funds available for affordable housing.
Despite the planning officer’s report clearly stating ‘social rented’, when it came to drafting the s106 agreement Notting Hill omitted the ‘social’ from ‘social rented’, consequently leaving the door open to interpretation as affordable rented. Indeed, in its press release and web page for the scheme, Notting Hill describes all rented units as ‘affordable rent’.
Canada Water Site E - former Mulberry Business Park
This is the site of the former Mulberry Business Park, for which King’s College was granted permission in Sep 2013 for student accommodation comprising 770 units. Having employed former deputy Council leader Kim Humphries as its planning advisor, the planning report confirms that King’s submitted a financial viability assessment claiming that it couldnt provide the required 35% affordable housing and could only afford to provide 23 social rented units in total.
However, the section 106 agreement signed in relation to the planning permission says that rent levels for the 23 social rented units are to be determined by the Homes and Communities Agency’s formula for ‘affordable rent’ (i.e. up to 80% market rent).
Canada Water Sites F & G - Harmsworth Quays
Sites F & G comprising the former Daily Mail printworks and the Surrey Quays shopping centre site, have not yet been granted planning consent. This monumentous scheme comprising approx 7 million sqft of development across 46 acres, is currently in the early stages of consultation and the process is being managed by ‘consultation experts - Soundings’ (the company which undertook the consultation for the Heygate masterplan on behalf of Lend Lease). The owner and developer of the site C scheme is British Land - one of the UK’s largest developers, formerly run by British property magnate Sir John Ritblatt (father of Delancey’s Jamie Ritblatt).
As freehold owner of the entire shopping centre and printworks site, Southwark council initially said it was going to block the sale of the printworks lease to British Land, but later backed down.
Initial consultation plans say that the site will house around 4,500 new homes.
The site will also include a new campus for King’s College London. King’s College is being advised on the scheme by Kim Humphries - former deputy council leader. Kim lost his seat in 2010 and has since founded ‘Carvil Ventures’, which offers “planning advice” and “assistance in the negotiation of s106 agreements”.
The consultation plans have so far failed to say how many (if any) of its new residential homes will be affordable and under what tenure. Although a pre-application consultation document does say:
A year previously, in November 2014, the Council had laid out its negotiating priorities with British Land in which it says it will insist on 35% affordable housing.
The development will deliver a policy compliant affordable housing offer with the council having an option to acquire the social rented units.
However, paragraph 4.11 of the final heads of terms agreement says that British Land must provide the requisite 35% affordable housing, but with the caveat that if they are unable to, then the Council will bail them out and pay for any shortfall in its affordable housing offer:
On 6th Jan 1999 Fiona Colley purchased flat 8, Yew House, 2 Woodlands Crescent SE16 6YH (Canada Water regeneration) off-plan for £159,000 and then sold it post-construction on 31st July 2003 for £271,000. On Sept 3rd 2003, she purchased flat 8, Rowan House, 3 Woodlands Crescent SE16 6YF (Canada Water regeneration) for £390,000 and then sold it in May 20th 2011 for £610,000. ↩