Labour councillors in Wandsworth have raised concerns that the revised plans for the Alton Estate regeneration programme in Roehampton still “risk being rejected by the Greater London Authority”.
Speaking at the Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee this week [January 22], Labour Cllr Claire Gilbert said the Mayor of London’s concerns about the development, outlined in an open letter last August, had not been properly addressed in the new plans submitted by the developer, Redrow.
The Mayor’s initial concerns mainly related to the re-provision of social rented housing, and the decision to place social housing in two “segregated” blocks on the “periphery of the site.”The new plan will see the number of affordable homes, including social rented units, increase by 40 to 196 homes in Phase 1.
However, this will reduce the number of affordable homes built in Phase 2, in an attempt to “accelerate the delivery” of social rent units by around four-and-a-half years.
Overall, there is only a net increase of five homes across both phases.
Cllr Gilbert said she had “grave concerns”.
“It’s really important as a council that we are not making promises to residents about receiving new homes that we cannot meet,” she said. “We have been led to believe in a meeting with senior officers that there are no discussions taking place with the GLA, who are the ultimate planning authority on this project.
“We are making promises to individual residents, often in their home that they will receive a new home, that is very specific. That has been designed effectively for them with their family in mind with a date attached to it. There is a real risk that we cannot meet those promises,” she said.
Resident action group, Alton Regeneration Watch, said some residents were confused by the new plans.
A spokesperson said: “They are not overly clear as to why the increase in affordable housing has meant changing the blocks they may live in. There is scepticism that by only highlighting this change that something is lurking in the background that will not go down well with residents.
They added: “Labour is correct in that the Council needs to liaise with the GLA. Imagine being a resident that is impacted directly by the move. It would be dire for them to have yet another potential amendment to their future plans. This has been ongoing since 2014!”
There will be a statutory re-consultation on the plans between February and March this year, before they go back to the planning committee.
Cllr Kim Caddy, Cabinet Member for Housing, said she and the council were “absolutely committed” to the regeneration. She blamed local ward councillors, including Cllr Gilbert, for a “lack of co-operation” which resulted in difficulties for the scheme, and asked them to “get behind the plans and back them and support them in getting them done”.
She added that the council is working “as hard as it can” for residents and has committed “a huge amount of council resource and council money” for the projects.
When Labour councillors asked for an amendment committing to further engagements and conversations with the GLA, the majority Tory group said this was “superfluous” because they were already involved in these conversations.
The amendmant was not carried, and the committee agreed to the approach to the early works and indemnities on the Alton scheme as laid out in the paper.