The latest Housing Committee (September 2021) has presented a series of community benefits to mitigate the construction delay in the early phase of the Winstanley and York estates regeneration scheme.
Due to financial difficulties last year, the phasing of the redevelopment has been changed, and it was decided to delay for at least 4 years (in addition to the already 2 years late on the approved plans) the start of the construction on the main tower for phase one (see our previous article HERE). This was a bad news for the leisure centre which, according to the Council’s leaflets, was the jewel of the scheme (but as we wrote, it is a good news as it offers more possibilities to amend the masterplan and go back to the original consultation in 2013).
As a consequence, the developers (JV – Joint Venture between Wandsworth Council and Taylor Wimpy) were pressed to mitigate the four-year delay in the delivery of community facilities with a series of short term proposals (page 10(51) of Paper No. 21-245). Their so-called “package” will include refurbishments of existing playgrounds but also aspirations and promises which are still not yet certain.
The existing play areas at Ganley Court and between Holcroft House and Scholey House will be refurbished
York Gardens South Play Area
Due to closure of the former York Gardens playground to facilitate the construction progress, the developers are progressing a project to develop new play and recreational facilities on the York Gardens South area where the construction site for the delayed Block 1 and LCC building would be. The new playground will eventually be destroyed when the delayed block 1 tower starts being built.
£400k Community support grant
The developers have agreed to pay £100,000 a year for the four years of delay into a community mitigation fund. Although it does not say how they decide to allocate the funding (whether it is only for projects supporting their redevelopments or for any community projects), they cite the Volunteering and Mentoring project, the Youth Voice project, the Assemble and Join project, the dry-lining and scaffolding training that was run on the estate in 2019, the opening of a community food hub at Bramlands Close, a Cultural Steering Group and a programme of cultural activities (under development).
Falconbrook School (under condition)
The playground of the Falconbrook school (on the edge of the York Road estate immediately across Wye Street from Pennethorne Square) will be improved – but with the condition that the school allows the refurbished playground too be used by local residents (currently a large chunk of York Gardens is being used for construction).
Children’s Centre (to be confirmed)
There is no promise, but there might be a possibility to deliver the Children’s Centre and nursery element originally planned for a later phase, in the ground floor of Block 4. The proposal seems a viable option and will be considered further during applications for Block 4 (the 19 storey tower is currently at initial stage for planning).
Progress update on construction
The next phase of the regeneration scheme, Blocks 5a – c, has now commenced on site. This is the construction of three buildings referred to as 5A (14 storeys – 65 shared ownership accommodation), 5B (6 storeys – shared equity and social rented accommodation for decant) and 5C (12 storeys – shared equity and social rented accommodation for decant). In total it should deliver 126 Council homes.
About the old Battersea Baptist Church building
We also read in the report that, eventually (see the confusion that was created), the Battersea Baptist Church are expected to move to their new premises in September, vacating the old Battersea Baptist Church in Pennethorne Square. The Thames Christian School is currently completing its fit out works and expects to move into their new premises over the Christmas holiday break.
However, instead of leaving the old Battersea Baptist Church building for community use until its destruction is required for the next phase of the regeneration, in a few years at the earliest, the plans are being put in place to demolish it in preparation of the next phase of development. Why? Because the Council wants to trigger the CIL money attached to the land, and this is only available when the building is destroyed (i.e. construction site started). But who is the owner of the land? On page 3(44) of Paper No. 21-245 it clearly says:
“However, the Council would like to undertake the demolition of the building soon after it transfers to its ownership (expected to be September 2021). Demolition triggers the requirement to pay the appropriate element of CIL from the landowner (i.e. in this example, the Council) and the Council would have the responsibility of claiming CIL relief on it.”
The Council! So in a nutshell, the Council wants to demolish the building as soon as possible to get money from itself, which will be used partly for funding Nine Elms improvements, as we demonstrated previously.
Anyone find it ridiculous?
Can a private development be exempt of CIL by being branded affordable at initial stage?
Note that there is an interesting issue regarding the payment of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL – the developer’s charge) on those developments, highlighted by the Housing committee report.
Relief for CIL can be claimed where the development consists of affordable housing. However, what happens when affordable units consisting of shared equities become fully private after the occupant has purchased back all equities and own the property outright? In these circumstances the unit will become private rather than affordable and will mean that the initial CIL relief obtained when the units were affordable no longer applies.
Therefore it appears that the Council will decide to renounce the CIL as Taylor Wimpey does not want to bear the repayment liability (page 4 of Paper No. 21-245).
Anyone find it a problem?
25/10/2021: Update on the Baptist Church