Author: Cyril Richert
No rest for York Road: after already more than half-dozen of high towers/skyscrapers ranging from 14 to 28 storeys proposed or being erected, now developers are proposing erection of a part 5, 9, 11, 13 and 14 storey providing 82 residential units (with only 7 car parking spaces and 145 cycle parking spaces located at basement level). [p.a. 2017/5818]
Affordable Housing: 35% but intermediate (equities)
First of all, the developers are clearly blaming the Tory government austerity measures for the failure to deliver enough social housing. On page 4 of their Housing statement they say:
“The funding of affordable housing has moved away from capital funding to revenue funding as a result of austerity measures applied by the government. […] It is expected that no social housing grant will be applied in the transfer of the long leasehold interests of the affordable homes to the RPs.”
58-70 York Road benefits from an existing planning consent for the delivery of a ground floor commercial unit and upper floors consisting of 39 residential units with 9 are designated as shared ownership units.
The current proposal is that 29 (1 and 2 bedrooms) of the 82 homes will be Affordable. This is over 35% of the total residential units delivered on the proposed development and it exceeds the Borough target of 33%.
However we could not see any mention of social units and level of affordable dwellings (i.e. 80% of Market price). The document provided talks only of Intermediate (i.e. homes for sale and rent provided at a cost above social rent, but below market levels, which can include shared ownership and equity loans, intermediate rent, but not affordable rented housing). The current upper threshold for intermediate family housing is £90,000
Last but not least, as a clear example of the incongruity of the viability studies, the Affordable Housing Statement says:
“The details of the affordable housing proposal are demonstrated by the viability assessment provided by Knight Frank LLP and present in excess of the maximum affordable housing that the development can economically support (at the cost of developer profit as is clearly demonstrated).”
In other words: we could fix our level of desired profit to whatever % (let say 20 or 30%) and then demonstrate that it is unfortunate that we cannot reach that level; but as we are really nice folks, we agree to make a bit less profit to provide 2 or 3 more units!
If you want to make your own viability study, the previous consent brought the value of the site to £7,250,000 (offers invited in excess of, for a Freehold Residential Development Opportunity with existing planning permission) for 0.25 Acres (0.1 Hectares).
Dozens of objections
The proposal attracted 16 objections so far. As usual in this location predominantly low rise until recent change forced by the Council’s decisions, comments criticise the misleading pictures on the publicity material, as the towers dwarf the existing low rise buildings either side of it. It will be twice the height of the nearest building, Badric Court and will block the light and view for many existing residents (the developers are claiming that those are all bedroom windows so it does not matter; they assume you only sleep their probably).
The 7 car spaces provided makes a mockery of the intention of the developers nowadays to provide no-car-allowed buildings while everyone knows that the public transport system is already congested. Badric Court residents are already competing with others to find a parking space and often need to parks elsewhere.; this will just exacerbate the situation.
A cumulative impact ignored by the Council
In two years, the Council has considered, recommended or approved hundreds of new units for this compact location, transforming an area that was said to be inappropriate to buildings of 9 storeys or more (according to the Council’s own Policy) to a place that could rival with Vauxall, where the standard becomes a 20 storey tower that could very well be erected in Canary Wharf.
The cumulative impact in term of units (not even considering if they are 1, 2, 3 or 4 bedroom flats) is such as:
- 28-storey tower at 12-14 Lombard Road= 135 residential units
- 14 storey tower at 56 – 66 Gwynne Road= 33 residential flats
- 17 storey-tower being erected at 98 York Road= 173 residential units
- 21-storey tower (but maybe soon becoming 25) at 198 York Road= 299 residential units
- 25 storey tower for 100 York Road= 162 residential units
- extension for Plantation Tower= 127 residential units
- new buildings pictured as part of the Winstanley/York regeneration= likely to be around 500 along York Road (minimum of 2,275 residential units for the full redevelopment of the estates)
TOTAL so far = around 1500 units (therefore likely to represent 4000-5000 new residents).
The only major transport improvement currently being considered is Crossrail 2, likely not to happen for the next 15 to 20 years, and still under discussion for funding.
Maybe the current Council does not worry as they forecast that a large part of these new dwellings will be bought by foreign investors, not planning to use them or for a short period of time each year? Or maybe the current Tory cabinet is planning not to be in charge in future years, in order to be able to blame whoever is there in future for the chaos they created?