Why no new ‘affordable housing’ is getting built in Southwark

The St George PLC development at One Blackfriars Rd continues the trend for developers to not build any new affordable or socially rented homes but instead to give money to the council for provision elsewhere. The 2009 initial project saw planning permission was granted for:
• 32 Shared Ownership apartments on-site in the Rennie Street building
• Off-site provision of Social Rented accommodation within the borough

That scheme went into administration. St George’s bought the site for £150 million in December 2011 and have now presented a re-jigged scheme within the original planning permission. The new scheme has removed any new affordable of social rented component in lieu of:
• A financial contribution to the provision of affordable housing in the borough

On the private housing side, the original scheme included a hotel and new homes:
• 64 residential apartments in the tower
• 261 room hotel in the tower.

The new scheme now provides:
• Around 280 residential apartments in the tower.
• 150 room hotel in the lower building on Rennie Street.

So instead of affordable housing being built in Rennie St, the hotel will be downsized and plonked there and the tower will become all private housing with an increase of 216 flats over the original 64. This continues the trend of endless deferment to another time/space continuum of actually building any affordable or social rented housing in Southwark.

Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council may indeed be wondering why, as he tweets it, there are:

It also continues a second trend at Bankside of pushing any poorer people’s housing away from the Riverside area. Neo-Bankside development near the Tate Modern was allowed to waive its obligation to provide affordable housing in exchange for a hefty load of cash. As was said at the time: ‘Tim Wood, chairman of Bankside Open Spaces Trust, echoed Andrew Richardson’s remarks – “There is a major worry that the floodgates will open after this decision,” he said, recalling the recent decision by the planning committee to approve an in-lieu payment for affordable housing at the Berkeley Homes One Tower Bridge development. This will mean that north of Southwark Street we’ll just have rich people and south of Southwark Street rich people looking for places for ‘affordable’ people to live. I find that very difficult. It’s a central plank of [Southwark planning policy] to provide a mixed and balanced community.“‘

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