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Kick out Chelsea estate planning application

Friday, December 11, 2015

GMB Object To Redevelopment Plan For Chelsea Sutton Estate Over Loss Of 146 Social Housing Units Contrary To Borough Plan

 No amount of smoke and mirrors should detract from the fact that there is going to be a loss of 146 units if this plans gets the go ahead says GMB

GMB submitted an objection to a planning application submitted by the Sutton Trust  to redevelop the Sutton Estate in Kensington and Chelsea.  See notes to editors for copy of the text of GMB objection to RBKC.

The Chelsea Estate currently has 462 flats for affordable housing and the submitted plans intend for this to be reduced to 316, a net loss of 146 social units. The proposed development will have 106 additional 1, 2, 3, and 4 bedroom flats, town and mews houses for private sale at a cost of between £1.77m and £5.02m generating an estimated £351m.

The proposed development will see a 31.6% reduction in social housing for the next generation. There is a net loss in floorspace and there is a net loss in the number of units.

Last month GMB estimated that Sutton Trust will make £130 million profit from the redevelopment and sale of 2 acres (44% of total) of land in Chelsea acquired by a Victorian philanthropist for social housing while it reduces the number of social dwellings by 146. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release dated 16th November,

The Sutton Dwellings Trust was founded under the will of William Sutton, dated 15 August 1894, leaving £1.5m for ‘the provision of model low-rented dwellings for occupation by the poor of London and other towns and populous places’ with The Chelsea Estate being built in 1913.

GMB objection makes clear that proposal goes against The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Consolidated Local Plan which states that where the redevelopment of social rented housing estates is proposed ‘the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing, with the minimum being no net loss of existing social rented provision.’

It also goes against policy 3.14 of the London Plan which states ‘loss of housing, including affordable housing, should be resisted unless the housing is replaced at existing or higher densities with at least equivalent floorspace.’

Gary Doolan, GMB political officer, said “The Affinity Sutton claim that their approach to Estate Renewal is in accordance with the London Plan and the RBKC Local Plan and that the ‘application provides for a quantitative and qualitative enhancement of affordable housing’ is utterly contemptible and we hope the Planning Committee are able to see through this attempt to mislead those not familiar with all the facts and figures.

The fact that Affinity Sutton have run blocks A-D down through lack of maintenance and refurbishment is irrelevant – these blocks are still a part of the existing estate and should be included in the overall calculations of affordable housing. To claim otherwise is inaccurate and flawed. No amount of smoke and mirrors should detract from the fact that there is going to be a loss of 146 units if this plans gets the go ahead.

It is of primary importance that key workers have the ability to remain in the borough to service hospitals, schools and other public services within the community where they live. This development will do nothing to alleviate the situation and will only exacerbate the problem. In 2015 the median monthly rent in Kensington and Chelsea is £2,708, a figure well out of reach of key workers.

Our recommendation is that this planning be refused, sent back to the drawing board to ensure significantly more of the development is made up of social housing. To do otherwise would be a breach of the Core Strategy, make a mockery of the Local Plan and the London Plan and is not in accordance with The Localism Act. This would undermine statutory local plan policies.”

End


Contact: GMB Gary Doolan 07590 262 504 or for Roehampton contact, Kieron Merrett, GMB Regional Officer on 07866 441656.

Contact: ex resident Andrew Barshall 07725 947 222 or email ABarshall@gmail.com

For Sutton Estate contacts: Lisa James on 0207 378 5554 or lisa.james@affinitysutton.com

Notes to editors:

1. GMB objection to the proposed development of the William Sutton Estate, Planning Application PP/15/04878.

GMB Trade Union with over 600,000 members, including residents within the Sutton Estate, wish to object to the application on the following grounds:

  • Loss of Social Housing
  • Unsuitability of the development as regards the London Plan – The Spatial Development Strategy for London consolidated with alterations since 2011 and The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Consolidated Local Plan July 2015.

Loss of Social Housing

As a trade union, representing members who are often the less well off in society who rely on Social Housing to be accommodated, we are very concerned that that this development, with the loss of 146 social housing units, will have a detrimental effect on the future supply of Social Housing in the borough.

The Sutton Dwellings Trust was founded under the will of William Sutton, dated 15 August 1894, leaving £1.5m for ‘the provision of model low-rented dwellings for occupation by the poor of London and other towns and populous places’ with The Chelsea Estate being built in 1913.

The proposed development will see a 31.6% reduction in social housing for the next generation. There is a net loss in floorspace and there is a net loss in the number of units. Both of these go against the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Consolidated Local Plan July 2015 and London Plan.

Policy CH4 Estate Renewal of the Consolidated Plan states the council requires that where the redevelopment of social rented housing estates is proposed:

the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing, with the minimum being no net loss of existing social rented provision.’

As there is clearly a net loss of existing social rented provision in this development proposal, Affinity Sutton simply argue that Policy CH4 pre-dates the London Plan and therefore carries less weight.

The London Plan, Policy 3.14 Existing Housing, section B states,

loss of housing, including affordable housing, should be resisted unless the housing is replaced at existing or higher densities with at least equivalent floorspace’.

Affinity Sutton state in their July 2015 Planning Statement,

This application does not result in the loss of housing, as a matter of fact. It also re-provides more affordable housing than is currently required to be provided on site in perpetuity. This policy is therefore met.’

Policy CH3, Protection of Residential Uses states that the Council will ensure a net increase in residential accommodation and will,

‘resist the net loss of both social rented and intermediate affordable housing floorspace and units throughout the borough’

The Affinity Sutton claim that their approach to Estate Renewal is in accordance with FALP 2015 Policy 3.14 and RBKC Core Strategy Policy CH4 and that the ‘application provides for a quantitative and qualitative enhancement of affordable housing’ is utterly contemptible and we hope the Planning Committee are able to see through this attempt to mislead those not familiar with all the facts and figures. The fact that Affinity Sutton have run blocks A-D down through lack of maintenance and refurbishment (last refurbished in 1978-1979) is irrelevant – these blocks are still a part of the existing estate and should be included in the overall calculations of affordable housing. To claim otherwise is inaccurate and flawed. Even the Design & Access Statement submitted by Affinity Sutton states ‘The estate currently contains 462 affordable rented homes in 15 five-storey blocks. This equates to approximately 23,000m2 of residential area.

Section 3.14D of the London Plan states:

Boroughs should promote efficient use of the existing stock by reducing the number of vacant, unfit and unsatisfactory dwellings, including through setting and monitoring targets for bringing properties back into use. In particular, boroughs should prioritise long-term empty homes, derelict empty homes and listed buildings to be brought back into residential use.

The facts:

  • There are currently 462 flats for affordable housing
  • The development proposes 237 new flats plus the 79 refurbished flats – total = 316
  • Net loss of social houses = 146
  • The total site floorspace for development is 18,708 m2
  • The proposed affordable floorspace is 16,142 m2
  • Net loss of floorspace for social units = 2,566 mor 13.7%
  • The Consolidated Local Plan states no net loss of existing social rented provision
  • The London Plan states affordable housing is replaced at existing or higher densities with at least equivalent floorspace

 

It is of primary importance that key workers have the ability to remain in the borough to service hospitals, schools and other public services within the community where they live.

The Consolidated Local Plan states that in 2009, there were approximately 200 key workers on a register of 1,300 interested in intermediate housing and that there is already a shortfall of 3,950 affordable housing units per year and there is a ‘significant need for affordable housing in the borough’. This development will do nothing to alleviate the situation and will only exacerbate the problem. In 2015 the median monthly rent in Kensington and Chelsea is £2,708, a figure well out of reach of key workers.

If permission is granted it will set a dangerous precedent which other Housing Associations may follow, essentially turning them in to property developers and developing less and less social and affordable housing units. This is already beginning to happen with Genesis Housing Association announcing that it will only build for shared ownership, market rent and outright sale and will even review its rented accommodation as they become vacant with the view to selling or changing tenure.

Is this the continuation of the slow death of social housing in the borough? This development, as it stands, is integrating affordable housing into a commercial scheme rather than integrating private homes into an affordable housing scheme. The figures given by Affinity show that the affordable housing build cost is £62.8m and the private residential build cost is £88.2m. This is not what William Sutton would have envisaged. How many of the 106 private dwellings will be bought by overseas investors as buy-to-leave?

Questions must be asked of the Financial Viability Position. Dr Bob Colenutt, a housing expert from the University of Northampton, has recently described Viability Assessments as threatening ‘the very foundations of the UK planning system’; a legalised practice of fiddling figures that represents ‘a wholesale fraud on the public purse.’

These assessments must be challenged and no amount of smoke and mirrors must detract. A small change in one cost can make a big impact on Residual Land Value, profit and viability, therefore allowing the results to be easily manipulated. Construction costs are consistently higher in the models than in actuality. The profits or surplus made need to be looked at in significantly greater detail.

England is in the grip of a housing crisis. There are nowhere near enough homes being built in England. Around 240,000 homes a year need to be built to meet the future demand and yet the average over the last 10 years has been just under 140,000. This is most significant for the poorest in our society, reflected by an increase in those on the social housing waiting lists since 2000.

Our recommendation is that this planning be refused, sent back to the drawing board to ensure significantly more of the development is made up of social housing. To do otherwise would be a breach of the Core Strategy, make a mockery of the Local Plan and the London Plan and is not in accordance with The Localism Act. This would undermine statutory local plan policies.

The Local Plan forms part of the development plan and is therefore central in assessing planning applications

2. Previous GMB press releases

No To Land Grab In Chelsea Monday, November 16, 2015

Sutton Trust Set For £130m Profit On Re Development And Sale To Private Sector Of 2 Acres Of Chelsea Land Acquired By Victorian Philanthropist For Social Housing While Reducing 146 Social Dwellings

Sutton Trust claim to be selling minimum necessary to fund regeneration is misleading and the reality is a shameful asset strip of land in Chelsea bequeathed in perpetuity for social housing in most expensive area of London says GMB.

GMB is accusing the Sutton Trust of asset stripping of land in Chelsea bequeathed by Victorian philanthropist William Sutton to be used in perpetuity for social housing in this most expensive part of London.

Some 462 social homes on the Sutton Estate in Chelsea are to be replaced with 316 homes available for social rent if plans to regenerate the estate are given planning permission. This is a reduction of 146 units. 106 units are for sale to private sector.

Sutton Estate managers applied to Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) for planning permission to demolish and redevelop parts of the estate on 31st July 2015. The planning application has now been validated. There will be a hearing to consider the application in March 2016.

In correspondence on the regeneration of the estate Sutton Trust told GMB as follows: Our proposals deliver the minimum viable amount of private housing (30% or 106 of the new homes) possible. These will fund the cost of the complete redevelopment of the Estate”.

A GMB analysis of the planning documents on the RBKC website shows that the income from the redevelopment and sale of 2 acres (44% of the land area of the estate) yields £360m. The expenditures associated with the development are £230m. That leaves a profit to Sutton Estate of £130m from the re-development.

GMB is concerned that what is happening on the Sutton Estate is part of wider land grab of land used for now used for social housing.

Zac Goldsmith, the Tory party candidate for Mayor in London, advocates demolishing council and social housing estates where lower paid workers live. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release on GMB policy, Tory policy and Mr Goldsmith position.

Gary Doolan, GMB political officer, said “GMB estimate that Sutton Trust will make £130 million profit from the redevelopment and sale of 2 acres (44% of total) of land in Chelsea acquired by a Victorian philanthropist for social housing while it reduces the number of social dwellings by 146.

So the Sutton Trust claim to be selling minimum necessary to fund regeneration is misleading.

The reality is a shameful asset strip of land in Chelsea bequeathed in perpetuity for social housing in most expensive area of London

GMB members, working for contractors in the Royal Borough or at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, are lower paid workers. They need access to social housing such at that on the Sutton Estate.

On the planned new development 316 units will be available for social tenants. This is a reduction of 146 units. 106 units are going to be sold.

What concerns GMB regarding these plans is the loss of social units for future generations.

Were these plans to be approved there is as yet no bankable commitment by the Sutton Trust to invest any of the £130m surplus in the borough.

It is now clear that the Sutton Trust are hell bent on this asset stripping and only elected politicians can stop them.

GMB intend to appeal to elected politicians in RBKC and to the electorate during elections in London next year to stop this land grab.”

End

Copy of GMB press release dated 5th October 2015:

TORY APPOINTING LORD ADONIS PAVES WAY FOR PLAN TO DEMOLISH COUNCIL ESTATES FOR LOWER PAID WORKERS TO MAKE WAY FOR EXPENSIVE HOUSING

Wandsworth Tories have already begun this policy of knocking down council estates as in Roehampton in South West London 600 homes face demolition says GMB

GMB commented on the Tories appointment of Lord Adonis to oversee big buildings projects in the UK.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said "The Tory Party claim to be the party of workers is nonsense. As well as taking £1,200 per year in tax credits from 3m workers, with the appointment of Lord Adonis they plan to demolish the council estates where these workers live to develop luxury housing for sale.

If you are going to tell a lie you should tell a big one. The Tories in Wandsworth Council have already begun this policy of knocking down council estates. In Roehampton in South West London 600 homes face demolition. Some are occupied by council tenants and some by leaseholders who acquired them under right to buy. These latter face compulsory purchase orders to make way for private housing which none of the 600 families can afford to buy. See notes to editors 2 for copy of GMB press release on Roehampton from 2015 GMB Congress in Dublin.

This is a Tory land grab which is also advocated by Zac Goldsmith the Tory party candidate for Mayor in London. See notes to editors 1 for copy of statement by Zac Goldsmith in Daily Telegraph dated 29th September 2015.

The property developers fund the Tories and it is their Party."

End

Notes to editors.

1Statement by Zac Goldsmith in Daily Telegraph dated 29th September 2015.

“There is no shortage of land. For one thing, a large portion of the Fifties and Sixties housing estates in London are reaching the end of their lives. There are 3,500 such estates in the capital: if only a fraction were redeveloped to produce low-rise, high-density streetscapes we would generate enough new housing to cater for our needs for many years. It would take time, and existing communities would need to be thoroughly on-board and protected.”

2 GMB press release dated Monday 8th June 2015

GMB CONGRESS IN DUBLIN OPPOSES DEMOLITION OF COUNCIL HOUSING ESTATES THAT ARE TO BE TURNED INTO EXPENSIVE HOMES

40 Council Estates in London are facing demolition so this regeneration will always mean building expensive private dwellings which local people would never be able to afford GMB Congress told.

GMB Congress in Dublin today (8 June) agreed to oppose the demolition of council housing estates to make way for property developers to develop expensive housing for sale that are unaffordable to the residents in the estates being knocked down who are forced to move. See notes to editors for copy of the motion.

GMB Congress called on the CEC to secure TUC and Labour Party support for tenants and leaseholders who are trying to protect their homes and trying to stop this land grab. Congress agreed that we should work to stop cash starved Labour controlled councils using council homes as a cash machine to bridge funding gaps.

Sonya Davies, GMB Branch Secretary and Wandsworth resident, speaking at congress said ‘The previous Tory Local Government Community Secretary, Eric Pickles said that Council Estates should be looked at as ‘Brownfield Sites.’ That allows property developers to come in and in their words ‘Regenerate’ the estates.

This is affecting 40 Council Estates in London where the value of property is very high. In reality this regeneration will always mean building expensive private dwellings which local people would never be able to afford.

Currently in Wandsworth there are 3 Council Estates with working class people being faced with being forced out of their homes. This is because of compulsory purchases so that property developers and the council can profit from the redevelopment.’

Joyce Okoturo, member of GMB Wandsworth branch said ‘It is the buildings themselves that need investment, not demolition and if we can’t stop this in Wandsworth, other communities will be next.’

See notes to editors for a copy of the motion

Notes to editors:

1. The Motion

347. HOUSING ESTATE REGENERATION

This Congress notes that in council owned estates in London and in the South East council tenants and leaseholders face having their homes subject to being compulsory purchased so that the estates can be demolished and “regenerated” into expensive homes that neither tenants nor leaseholders can afford to rent or buy.

GMB Congress calls on the CEC to secure TUC and Labour Party support for tenants and leaseholders who are trying to protect their homes and trying to stop this land grab. A specific aim should be to stop cash starved Labour controlled councils using council homes as a cash machine to bridge funding gaps.

GMB Congress supports estate regeneration where the primary aim is to improve conditions for existing tenants and leaseholders and opposes it where the primary aim is for private developers to cash in and make loads of money while existing tenants and leaseholders face being kicked out of their homes.

GMB Congress calls for regions and branches to take an active hand to warn tenants and leaseholders in London and the South East estates what the Tories plans are for their homes.

 

 

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