Brixton Somerleyton Road development and Brixton Green - funding, proposed rents etc

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by ViolentPanda, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. OvalhouseDB

    OvalhouseDB Well-Known Member

    Thanks @CH! Here I am!

    Yes, there is slippage in the overall timescale, and this has been caused by a number of factors, one of which is dealing with the land assembly issues, and processes in the procurement of a contractor. However my understanding is that time may well be regained. Until the next Steering Group meeting on May 25th I am not able to offer much clarity on timescale, the recent complications over planning, etc. Sorry!
  2. CH1

    CH1 "Red Guard"(NLYL)

    Thanks. I think you could perhaps suggest the community is currently lacking in information - whereas in previous years we had updates and events on a regular basis.

    My reading of the situation is that if the Milegate development is still on track after 12th July, that the scheme as a whole will need to be updated. Will there be any community input into this?

    Seems St John's School will be moving back to Angell Town at the beginning of September - will this mean work will start at your end at that time?
    Gramsci likes this.
  3. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    I live just a few hundred metres away and I have no idea whatsoever abut what is going on. I suspect that I'm not alone. There's been no updates sent or posted up in the area.
    CH1, Greebo and Gramsci like this.
  4. Tricky Skills

    Tricky Skills I demand tea - NOW!

    Do you know what has happened to the Steering Group minutes please? They were supposed to be published each month:

    I had to FoI to get the last lot published. Since then - nothing.

    Have you still been meeting since June 2015?
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  5. OvalhouseDB

    OvalhouseDB Well-Known Member

    The last Steering Group Mtg was on 13th April, and the next one 25th May - there have been some gaps.
    I will request that the minutes are posted straight away.

    Since planning permission was granted the work has been in starting the procurement process, further work on the viability and financing of the scheme and on the proposed management model. The architects and other consultants have been stood down pending the start of Stage E design - with the idea being that the eventual contractor is involved alongside the design team at Stage E to advise on cost savings ('Value Engineering').

    If there do need to be significant amendments then yes, the community will be involved.

    I am waiting for an update on all these matters.

    Meanwhile Ovalhouse is getting on with our fundraising. Lovely to see some familiar Brixton friends and faces at the fundraising performance of Diary of a Hounslow Girl, the Ovalhouse show written and developed by one of our former youth theatre members and now on tour: at Stratford Circus tomorrow until Saturday. We have also been inviting theatre and other performance artists to submit bids for our Brixton City commissions - details on BrixtonBuzz and our website, closing date MONDAY!

    Sorry I can't be more informative about details at the moment - it is a frustrating stage of the development.
    Greebo, Tricky Skills and editor like this.
  6. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Thanks for this. I do think the Council should give an explanation of why the private land was not CPOd earlier and what there position on the Milegate planning application is. That is are they going to not try for a CPO and how they are going to deal with a private development slap bang in the middle of a scheme that was supposed to end up under Council control. It splits the Council section in two halves. How will this work? If u can ask , along with the minutes of the board meetings, that Council do this.

    After all all the consultation so far have assumed this would be a Council owned development. I just assumed it was all in hand. When the Council planning application went in Future Brixton made a big thing about it.

    I have my differences with Brixton Green but they were right to oppose the Milegate planning application. Its not usual practise for them to publicly oppose the Council. So something must be going on behind the scenes the rest of us do not know about.
    Last edited: May 18, 2016
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  7. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    The other problem is that the planning application for the privately owned land is agreed but the owners do not have to start works at the same time as the rest of the Council development. From memory they could sit on there planning application for several years. Or sell it on to another developer.

    This is quite a mess.
    Tricky Skills, Greebo and editor like this.
  8. CH1

    CH1 "Red Guard"(NLYL)

    Thank you for reminding me of something.

    Diane Morris - vice chair (and formerly chair) of planning committee made a good point on the 16-22 Somerleyton application at the meeting on Tuesday.
    She demanded a clear statement as to whether we could expect a viability assessment on the scheme once planning permission was granted - and that the developer might come back seeking approval for fewer affordable and more market units on the basis of such a confidential viability report, which seemed to be customary lately.

    The senior planning officer stated categorically that the section 106 will make this impossible in this case.

    We will wait and see - as Herbert Asquith reportedly said.
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  9. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    I see Brixton Green are still winning over the community.

    Tricky Skills, Gramsci and Greebo like this.
  10. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    I'm surprised that hasn't been vandalised/over-written, as mysteriously happened to that anti-Brixton Green street art a couple of years ago...:hmm:
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  11. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    I dont see how the officer can say that.
    Not saying you heard wrong but this did sound odd to me that the officer can say Section106 will make it impossible.
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  12. CH1

    CH1 "Red Guard"(NLYL)

    I know I'm deaf, but I was sitting right behind him. I too am sceptical about the final out-turn.

    It's a pity no-one tape recorded the meeting because several things were said which indicated the planning officers wanted the thing to go through. The so-called quasi-judicial nature of the Planning Committee ultimately means no-one is held responsible if it all goes pear-shaped.

    I would like to know what Councillor Hopkins thinks about all this. Is he happy that his officers ground to a halt on Somerleyton and thereby allowed a private scheme to potentially capture 1/3 of the housing? And to introduce private housing for sale at market price into the equation?

    I was just checking a planning application for my brother in Norfolk. Breckland Council had the goodness to put a full (but redacted) Viability Assessment for the development on their website. I was amazed to see that in a development of 40 houses in rural Watton it was not viable to have any social housing or any other section 106 obligations.
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  13. Tricky Skills

    Tricky Skills I demand tea - NOW!

    Lambeth Council was recently involved in a court case about withholding Viability Assessment Reports from the public. The outcome of the case hasn't been made public yet :p

    Oh the irony.
    Gramsci, brixtonblade, CH1 and 2 others like this.
  14. Rushy

    Rushy AKA some / certain posters

    I read that the 34 London Boroughs achieved an average of 22 per cent affordable housing, ( targets range from 30 per cent to 50 per cent). A BNP Paribas study put this largely down to rising value of land for commercial use, which has made developers abandon less profitable housing schemes and turn sites over to more profitable office buildings (which obviously have no "affordable" element).
  15. CH1

    CH1 "Red Guard"(NLYL)


    Lambeth used to require 40% affordable housing. I think this might have been the London target too.

    This would be 40% affordable housing out of 100% of housing developments - right?
    I know the French are eccentric - but how did BNP Paribas manage to get offices into a calculation concerning housing?
    Greebo likes this.
  16. Rushy

    Rushy AKA some / certain posters

    Simple. If the council insists on 40% affordable housing, the rising price of commercial means that it now makes more financial sense for the developer to build commercial instead, without any housing. To ensure resi developments go ahead, the council reduces the affordable demands.
  17. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    I was a the Brixton Neighbourhood Forum tonight and brought the issue of the planning application. Were the Council going to CPO the land or not.

    Two Council officers were there from Regen and planning.

    They did say they would get back on what is happening. One did say there had been a lack of communication on what the Councils intentions are.

    On the CPO issue the officer said the valuation of the CPO would have assumed that the site would for housing. Even if done earlier on.

    The impression I got is that the Council realises this is a bit of an embarrassment. Also looked to me that Brixton Green are in the dark on this as much as joe public like me.

    Also got the impression that the Council is looking at ( possibly) acquiring the the land as is talking to the developer. But its all commercially confidential negotiations.

    Also was said to me ( not by the officers) that Islington Council, unlike Lambeth , is much more willing to take on developers.
    Last edited: May 27, 2016
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  18. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    On % of affordable housing. The planning officer talked of a case in Islington. The Council had opposed a "viability assessment" of a developer who was trying to reduce the affordable element. There argument was that the developer paid to much for the land knowing that he could use a viability assessment to reduce affordable element and thus loss of profits.

    Council lost the case. Appears to be an issue for all Councils and this was a test case.

    What appears to be happening is that land value is increased knowingly. As viability assessments can be used after buying.
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  19. CH1

    CH1 "Red Guard"(NLYL)

    Notwithstanding what Gramsci posted above - in this particular case the developer was actually proposing residential almost copying the council's published plans - except that they have added in private accommodation.

    Maybe you should visit Somerleyton Road Rushy and get a perspective on this particular site. It has been used as a cold store for frozen fish for the last 20 years and is almost falling down. I can't see Harry Hyams coming in with a proposal for Centrepoint II on this particular site. If someone wanted to develop the site for commercial use they could have done that anytime from when the council sold it off around 1995 - it has been zoned as commercial all that time.

    What Gramsci is saying is actually correct - to ensure residential developments go ahead councils are forced to cave in to developers. The developers having paid property consultants to prepare a commercially confidential Viability Assessment supporting their client's case - which it now appears are accepted by the courts.
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  20. Rushy

    Rushy AKA some / certain posters

    You expressed surprise at a viability study on another site. I referred to study of which I'd read a summary yesterday which quantified by how much targets were being missed and touched on a key reason for this. I made no suggestion that it explained either case. But it is nevertheless useful insight into how decisions in general are being reached. You are arguing with a point I haven't made.

    With regard to developers producing expensive viability studies, the council has the power to require the developer to also pay for the council's own consultants to check the studies. The councils use the same big expensive firms. BNP Paribas is one which Lambeth use, I believe. I know of local cases where the council's consultants have approved the viability study so the council appoints yet another consultant. It's not quite the breeze that it's made out to be.

    Of course, none of this stops informal negotiation behind the scenes.

    I'm not convinced that developers deliberately pay higher prices for the land to ensure viability does not stack up. That does not make much sense to me. But they clearly speculate about what they will be allowed to do and this affects the price they pay. For viability studies to be at all meaningful they should really take into account the value of the land as it stood at the time of purchase, with existing planning permissions etc.. Developers should then be free to speculate and, if they get it wrong, suffer the loss, rather than be allowed a planning compromise on their site because they paid to much. I said the same in relation to the Barratt purchase.
  21. CH1

    CH1 "Red Guard"(NLYL)

    The senior planning officer in this case stated categorically to Councillor Diana Morris at Planning Committee that it would not be possible for a viability assessment to be used in this case. They would put on a section 106 to make sure it did not happen he said.
    That is the context in which this became an issue in the last few posts here on this thread.

    Gramsci was sceptical that the officer could have said that - but he did indeed say it.

    Unfortunately "council minutes are not meant to be a verbatim record of the proceedings" (as we know from other cases) so there is wiggle-room available.

    As for your point that Lambeth could force a developer to pay for their own experts to check the viability report - I hadn't heard of that. I bet Lambeth don't enforce it either. It would not surprise me in the least if us council tax payers were paying BNP Paribas as Lambeth planning and valuation consultants, alongside the myriad other consultants Lambeth constantly liaise with at public expense for all sorts of reasons.

    Lambeth Council seem more concerned to push things through as soon as possible - regardless of the ethnic and social cleansing implications (so long as Lambeth isn't paying for it).
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  22. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    At the Forum meeting the planning officer talked about the difficulty of getting affordable housing on private developments.

    He said viability assessments are a real problem. I do have some sympathy for Councils on this issue.

    Whoever in government thought this up did it in the interests of developers. It was a clever idea.

    Councils can set 40% and this deliberately undermines it.

    To call them viability assessments is a misnomer. They should be called maximising my profit assessment.
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  23. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    The other problem is that now so called Starter Homes for sale count as affordable housing. This will reduce even further rented affordable housing.
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  24. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    FFS. Another wriggle.
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  25. Rushy

    Rushy AKA some / certain posters

    I share your obvious deep mistrust of Lambeth planning. I really do. But the only project I know of (due to my limited experience rather than because the practice is not wide spread) was here. And when Lambeth didn't get the answer they wanted from the second consultant, they insisted on a third. All paid for by the developer. However, this was a mid size developer. I could believe that they are much more cooperative with the big corporates who they cannot get away with bullying.

    It's not just us public who have a bad impression of them. Pretty much any mention of Lambeth planning in professional and consultancy circles raises a groan from what I've heard and been told.
  26. Twattor

    Twattor Well-Known Member

    This is a massive issues for all councils since viability became a material consideration. LBI were always going to be at the sharp end as they have always been on the militant side, but there is a lot to be said for starting low and pushing up rather than starting high and having to re-build.
  27. CH1

    CH1 "Red Guard"(NLYL)

    I think there were much better in the 1990s - and they had a lot more experienced staff who knew the areas.

    The imposition of a funding regime related to achieving housing targets (just housing - not affordable housing and definitely not social housing) means Lambeth Housing are also operating under politically imposed duress from central goverment.

    The case you cite sounds somewhat sui generis if I might say so. Lambeth Planning seems currently keen to approve anything residential - which makes it all the more disappointing that the wheels have come off in Somerleyton Road as regards the council as developer.

    I'm wondering if Lambeth Council still has the competencies to develop social housing. Seems as though without a partner development company like Higgs or Barratts they flounder, which is sad.
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  28. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    At the forum meeting the planning officer said that Lambeth has targets set by GLA/ mayor to achieve of residential housing to be built in Lambeth. ( Private or affordable).

    On Somerleyton road they have a team who can deliver. What is needed is the political will to push it through.
    Greebo likes this.
  29. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Been trying to find the Islington case that was mentioned at the Forum meeting.

    Did find this Guardian piece.

    Islington certainly are more militant. This is what people want. At the Brixton Neighbourhood Forum people were asking about affordable housing. Its depressing to hear a whole litany of reasons why it cant happen from senior officers. I don’t think its just down to how bad or not Lambeth Planning are. Labour Lambeth Council politically will not have a go at developers. Cllr Peck would rather go off and give talks to developers for example. Reading the Guardian piece on Islington its different up there. I could feel in the meeting how it went flat after the officer spoke. Its just dis empowering for ordinary people.

    Property developers are the enemy. Preferably they would be done away with. Until that happens Lambeth should take a leaf out of Islingtons book and tell it how it is.
    Last edited: May 28, 2016
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  30. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    And from the Guardian piece so called viability assessments are all about profit margins.

    Viability assessments aren’t there to protect poor hard pressed developers from going under. Its not about stopping nasty Councils putting developers out of business. Though that would be good.
    Last edited: May 28, 2016
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