180 Brockley Road decision deferred

Cllr Mike Harris reports that Lewisham Council's planning committee agreed with the developers to defer any decision on 180 Brockley Road for a further six weeks, to allow more work to be done on how to accommodate more social housing as part of the scheme.

He says that the developers were happy to consider this challenge and that the plans could involve building social housing in another location.

54 comments:

What a shame said...

What a shame - hopefully this doesn't mean some of the retail goes or we get a worse overall end result. Lewisham Council have stated they have no plan to spend significant funds on regeneration of Brockley, it's surprising they won't support a development which does, and also gives loads back to the general Brockley community.

Tim said...

Dear Muppets at Lewisham Council,

May I humbly suggest that a good way to get more social housing would be to sell your property in (relatively) expensive areas like the Conservation Area, and build housing in less affordable areas.

Regards,

Tim

Robert said...

I have almost completely lost faith in the ability of our councillors to make sensible, unprejudiced decisions at planning committees. Why do we have politicians who understand little about the development of cities making these calls? I would advise that the applicant takes the scheme to the inspectorate.

Brockley needs retail, commercial use, and leisure uses at ground floor here - not more social housing - or even private housing. If the money offset into social housing elsewhere increases the density of private housing on this block - then Brockley loses. Perhaps Lewisham should look at their own existing property assets, and turn that value into social housing of their own if they want to see more of this in the borough. Scraping margins from medium-scale developments like this is not the answer.

Michael Harris said...

Maybe, just maybe, before criticising councillors you should read the minutes and details of the application concerned? 


We haven't refused the scheme, we've asked the developer to come to us with a proposal to either a) include on-site shared ownership housing b) a section 106 agreement to provide the housing off-site. 

We do not believe this will change the scheme, nor affect its viability and we were clear about this at the meeting. 
Finally, selling assets in expensive areas to fund social housing in poorer areas means turfing people out of their homes and reducing the social mix. Far harder to do in practice than from behind a keyboard. 

Oh no! said...

The last thing Brockley needs is more damn social housing, the only way Brockley will flourish is by weeding out the undesirables.

Tim said...

Every time you refuse to "turf someone out", you are hurting the taxpayer, by doing something that economically doesn't make sense.  Maybe you should consider making the tough decisions that aren't nice for individuals but are for the greater good.  That is what you have been elected to do.

I agree with the other poster.  I'm not sure why elected politicians are allowed control over the planning process.  Far better to have a panel of well qualified experts.

Tim said...

 And another thing Michael Harris!

Were you elected to decide what the social mix should be.  Is social engineering part of your mandate? 

Monkeyboy said...

The last thing any city needs are ghettos for the poor and paranoid enclaves of the rich. I'd rather live next to a nurse in social or some form of shared ownership property that a self important accountant whe hates anyone who can't afford the deposit for a mortgage. London is great BECAUSE its more mixed than most cities.

Jess said...

Yes that's just what we need, more ghettoisation. Why should people be turned out of their houses and moved to out of the way flats in worse parts of the borough simply because it does not fit in with your profiling of the area.
Why shouldn't a developer who will make millions from this not provide some social housing in any of the 10 flats and penthouses they are building. I think it's  ridiculous where developers can pay off the council and build the required social flats elsewhere too, cheaper and nastier. There is a housing crisis in this country maybe people should think about that a little more.

Shame if the gentrification of the neighbourhood attracts more commenters like the ones on here. This new face of Brockley is ugly as hell, as ugly as this new development is.

Michael Harris said...

Do you know how expensive it is to sell assets and then rebuild (the second question is where should we build)? There isn't an enormous land bank we're sitting on. Most social housing isn't large town properties, we own relatively few. 

Unelected "experts" would build more, not less, and be totally unaccountable. And who would these experts be?

Tim said...

 People should be turned out of their homes because council housing is meant to be a basic right, that is provided to those going through tough times.  It is not fair that people who are being supported by the taxpayer are able to live in better houses than those in private accomodation. 
The developer should not have to provide social housing because that's not their job.  Economies work best when private enterprise is encouraged.  If you disagree, move to Cuba or North Korea.  The council's job is to provide social housing, but doesn't seem very good at doing it in an economically efficient way.

Re the housing crisis in general - What successive governments have done is an ABSOLUTE disgrace.  We are going through an economic crisis, and the reason housing is so expensive is because there is not enough supply.  We should be building on brownfield AND greenfield sites (because brownfield is not enough).  We should have an integrated policy.  Those that bleat about the green belt, or tall towers, should not be so selfish and should think about successive generations.  A comprehensive programme of housebuilding would rejuvanate the economy, and give hope to future generations, who have thoroughly been shafted in many ways.

Robert said...

Mike - apologies, but I'm pretty up on the details of this proposal, having had a number of meetings with the developer, as well as reading through the application details. I think you have got it wrong here - you are trying to squeeze something out of a developer that is just not there. Reducing their margins on this mid-size scheme by enforcing a social housing commitment elsewhere in the borough is a kick in the teeth to Brockley residents.

Tim said...

 Squeezing the pips out of property developers reduces their margins and makes housebuilding in general less attractive.  This means there is less supply from private enterprises, which leads to lower stock of housing in general, which leads to higher house pricing in general.
Meanwhile, Michael Harris (and other councillors, I assume) are worrying about the social mix...

Jess said...

@Tim The fact you've mentioned North Korea and Cuba is so laughable it negates any other point you will ever make, might as well mention the Nazis while you're at it.

Concernedlocal said...

It would be totally different in Lewisham council were actually investing in Brockley, they way they are in many other ares - Deptford, Sydenham, Forest Hill (leisure centre), etc. We have got nothing... And when a private company tries to build something to enhance the are what does the council do - try to squeeze more out and potentially jeopardise any chance of imrpovement to the area. This isn't a development in a back laneway - it's the centre of Brockley, where we need more retail, more vibrance ... I really hope this doesn't muck it up.

Tom said...

"Economies work best when private enterprise is encouraged.  If you disagree, move to Cuba or North Korea." Hahaha. You sound like a US-style neoliberal, maybe *you* should move *there*! 

Robert said...

That Section 106 agreement would be better spent on improvements to Coulgate straight - tree planting, pavement widening.

What you are asking the developer to do is decrease the quality of the development here: materials and amenity provision, in order to offset Lewisham's commitment to provide social housing elsewhere. Brockley loses. This is a really key development for Brockley - it needs be as good as it can be if it is going to make a positive contribution to the area. If we end up with an inferior building, dense with housing and little else - then Brockley become a little sleepier, rather than a little more vibrant.

The_Local_Crackhead said...

That's rich coming from the person who wanted to weed out undesirables!

Tim said...

 "You will ever make" is a bit strong?  I said that to try and simply make the point that capitalism is the least bad system.  I agree that that sentence doesn't help my argument!

Tim said...

 Ironically, I'm thinking strongly about it as my girlfriend is American.  I went to North Caroline and Omaha recently and they are both beautiful, with more affordable housing.  Strange attitude to guns though..

cbw said...

Agreed, and any reduction to the margins will be made up for by reducing the quality of the project, something a lot of people here have been very vocal about.

Surely the right contribution for the developer to make should be in tax? Elected officials can then spend that as they wish. S.106 contributions are sensible when they are used to mitigate the impact of a development on its surrounding area, but extorting money to pay for things that should be coming out of the council's budget and will in any case be built elsewhere seems like a perversion of the spirit (if not the letter) of the section.

Imagine the council will have a lot to unhappy residents to answer to (as well as a few happy ones, no doubt) if this scuppers development of the site.

Michael Harris said...

Just to be clear: there is no chance of this scheme being scuppered. Full stop. If it fits in with general planning obligations (which the committee took no view on, that's to be discussed) and the developer will contribute to improved affordable housing (we will look at the overall profitability of the scheme in doing this) then it will go ahead.

What we, as councillors, did last night was drive a better bargain for local people. This was the first major development I've seen whilst on a planning committee that had *no* provision for affordable housing. That's not good enough. Hence us asking the developer to have a think... 

Tim said...

Erm, the developer DOES pay tax.  Corporate tax on the profits they make...

cbw said...

Yes, that was my point but well done for missing it :)

The_Local_Crackhead said...

America is essentially bankrupt and all their debt is owned by China. Great capitalism.

Concernedlocal said...

Aren't we the local people too? What if we want it to be built in it's proposed form, without compromise to it's design, retail space and build quality?

Yay said...

Sounds like public realm improvements desperately needed in Brockley are gonna suffer as a result for this. At least we'll have more social housing. yay.

Monkeyboy said...

Tom, we appoint the councilors. They make decisions about how policy works on our behalf. They don't represent your views, they represent most people's. who are your "experts" accountable to? The builders and developers?

I support the scheme and I support a planning process that keeps them honest.

As for the "social engineering" thing. Well most important policy and laws are. Taxation, grants, free education, affordable health care, the penal system...

Robert said...

You are not driving a better bargain for local people - that is disingenuous. The public provision in this building is the in the retail, and the ground floor activity, and perhaps improvements to public realm - which is also detracting from the profitablity of the scheme. If you insist on adding social housing to the mix - then the public will almost certainly lose amenity from the development - the developer has told me as much himself.

Currently Lewisham has a planning commitment to ensure that 50% of its housing in the borough is affordable. The London Plan advises that this be done by a number of avenues including local authority developments, long-term vacant properties brought back into use, as well as piggy backing private development.

Lewisham seem to meet all of their commitments through piggy-backing - and then we wonder why all new private housing in the borough is atrocious.

Anonymous said...

No social housing but a considerable commitment to public realm improvements. Surely a big enough investment in the latter can make up for the former in this case (given the location etc)?

Tim said...

All the things you've mentioned are the responsibility of central government.  I get what you are saying, but I think local councillors should worry about basic services and spending money wisely. 

Tim said...

Most of Europe is essentially bankrupt too (including us).  And China is pretty capitalist in many ways.  And what's wrong with your debt being owned by another country anyway (on a basic level), that's how global capital markets work.

Robert said...

Tim. Thanks - but isn't all this discussion about global capitalism muddying the waters on what is an important local issue?

Michael said...

Most Councillors are simply not qualified to make the major decisions which they are allowed to make. So they usually base their decisions on political agenda as a way to get re-elected. If you vote for a Labour Council then you should not be surprised by this move in Brockley. The Council is shirking its responsibility to provide social housing onto others as it is unwilling to treat its own stock of Council housing as a temporary benefit. Hence you end up in a situation where people like Bob Crow are living in a Council house (to which he is 'entitled') when he should in fact thank the Council for his flat and move on to the private sector so the property can be given up to the actual needy. 

People, if you think the London social housing stock is under supplied now, just wait until the millions of 'vulnerable' Bulgarians and Romanians arrive in a few months and stick their names straight onto the housing lists. If I were them I would, and I'll bet hundreds of thousands of them do. Is this why we are losing our green belt?

Monkeyboy said...

No, some is. Some is devolved to our local elected representatives. I'd say housing supply and quality is very much a basic provision locally. In fact all the parties claim to want to devolve more of their powers to local level. Who's best placed to understand SE4? A Whitehall MP or a Cllr? There will always be a tension between a developer wanting to maximise profits and local planning preferences. Noting wrong with that. In fact central government have devolved their spending cuts to local level. The two are not seperate.

Monkeyboy said...

BINGO! Thanks mike, "Bulgarians" was the missing one on my Daily Express scratch card. I win a Kate & wills plate and pointy white hood.

The_Local_Crackhead said...

All these foreigners coming over here and cleaning our toilets. It's a disgrace.

Headhunter said...

I have to say, although selling up social housing in relatively expensive spots like the conservation area in Brockley might make economic sense, part of the charm of London is that social housing and the less well off are cheek by jowl with the better off rather than forced into ghettos as they are in so may French cities like Paris and Marseille for example. These cities have near 3rd world districts in otherwise 1st world cities, packed with tourists and world heritage sites in Paris' case...

Brockley Nick said...

Mike, I think Robert makes some good points about there being more than one way to measure local benefit. If the public realm improvements are dropped or the build quality is reduced in such a key location, then it would be a major disappointment.

Can I ask, if they come back with a scheme that delivers some more social housing but drops some of the other elements that people want as a result, that you may choose to go with the original scheme?  

Or is it social housing at all costs for the committee?

Because obviously, the Council has been very happy to lower the social housing requirement for flagship schemes in Lewisham, in order to get the kinds of schemes that you want built.

The same principle ought to apply here, no?

I'd be happy to see more social housing, so long as the design and build remains and not a single shop unit is lost. If the developers think they can crack that problem, great.

Aricana said...

There is obviously a need for more social housing in all areas so I wonder if anyone knows why the planned development, for which the land was cleared adjacent to the railway track on Mantle Rd, never seems to have got underway.

Michael said...

Clearly not called Monkeyboy for nothing.Heck, sure why even have borders, lets just fling open the gates to all! Belittling anyone who raises a valid concern over immigration is idiocy. Mature debate anyone? But then again this time next year Monkeyboy will probably have a Bulgarian washing his car for £2.50 so its all gravy.

Clearly the increasing population and Council policy is what is driving the massive social housing shortage. So we need to be able to discuss what's causing that increase to solve any of the problems which you seem so concerned about. Cos lets face it, we cant keep on building forever. 

Monkeyboy said...

Bulgarians, it's the Bulgarians? Well I don't know about anyone else but I've learnt something.

Brockley Free from Lewisham said...

"What we, as councillors, did last night was drive a better bargain for
local people. This was the first major development I've seen whilst on a
planning committee that had *no* provision for affordable housing.
That's not good enough. Hence us asking the developer to have a think.."

This is a scheme that local people want and have supported from the beginning. YOU and YOU FELLOW Councillors do NOT represent local people in Brockley, and are giving another kicking in the teeth to an area that you have done nothing to support.

Please mind your own business and stop bargaining on the false premises that it is for the benefit of the local people.

This is the center of Brockley, and the Councillors have already agreed for TWO ENORMOUS FULL SOCIAL HOUSING DEVELOPMENT on Malpas road. An Aestetic disgrace and an insult to  those who live in the area.

SELL YOUR 200 properties in the conservation area and stop bothering those few private developers that are trying to do the right thing for one.

The result of your bargaining will only bring lower specifications to teh development, a development local people will have to live with for the next 50 years+ 

Monkeyboy said...

http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-are-eastern-europeans-to-blame-for-social-housing-shortages/10372

Danja said...

Damn.  This is how all those "lego blob" comments get brought to reality.  Elegance costs, and sometime it matters.  On a building on a site like this, I hoped the councillors would follow the planning team's sensible recommendations by imposing load of really tight design and finish requirements.  It's a gateway building, not tucked away on a side street.

oryx said...

Every time you refuse to "turf someone out", you are hurting the
taxpayer, by doing something that economically doesn't make sense. 
Maybe you should consider making the tough decisions that aren't nice
for individuals but are for the greater good.

For whose greater good?

Could you perhaps expand a bit on how you think the movement of people in social housing to less expensive areas benefits 'the taxpayer'?

Mixalot said...

Are you asking for Ghetto development?

Tim said...

 For the greater good of society.  I thought that was obvious.

Again, I thought it was evident from my earlier piece, but if you sell a flat in Brockley Conservation Area for £275k, and build 2 somewhere else for that money, then you have benefitted the taxpayer and the seeker of social housing.  The person who has been moved on still has accomodation, which is what I believe the obligation of society should be. 

Tim said...

 Clearly I am not asking for Ghetto development.  That would be stupid.  I am suggesting that council housing should be managed so that receivers of it are housed in the most economically sensible way.  Said social housing should provide a basic living standard and not much more.  That would include heat, lack of crime, water, sewerage etc.  I'm not sure ghettos provide these things. 

Do I think receivers of social housing have some sort of right to live in expensive parts of London where many people can't afford to live?  No

oryx said...

So, would you like to be turfed out of your home (possibly somewhere you'd built up contacts, had kids in school, lived in a reasonable distance of work etc. etc.) to live in a cheaper area because it benefitted the taxpayer?

Your proposal is evident from your earlier post. Your humanity isn't.

Cautious said...

I think this is the most important point - Mike, can you guarantee that if the developer proposes an amended scheme with lesser quality materials/smaller spaces etc that you would agree to go with the original proposal?

Also, while I agree with some of what Tim's saying, the idea that a sudden burst of housebuilding (including on greenfield land) would benefit future generations seems contradictory to me... I can't see how we'd do it without shoddy, rushed, ugly developments all over the place.

guest said...

180 Brockley Road news: Looks like the developer is pushing to have one
large retail unit in the development (see last page on
http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/documents/s20499/180%20Brockley%20Road%20Appendix%201.pdf) ... looks like we're getting a big Tesco :( so much for caring for what local people want)

Clubcards r us said...

Obviously this was going to happen, the first prority of developers is to create profit, not serve the local desires. A big unit like that would only go to a major supermarket, and with Sainsburys already opening it will be a Tesco's. Welcome to Brockley home of endless supermarkets. I hope all the people who were cheering for this are happy. A Tesco's in a 5 storey new build, wow pretty cool. I'd rather keep the MOT garage.

Brockley Nick said...

They might want it. They don't necessarily get it. The Council can say no. Developers prioritise profit because that's their job, but they work within a regulatory framework which is meant to apply broader tests.

Brockley Central Label Cloud