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Council takes no legal action over ‘44 missing social housing units’
Councillor Ben Johnson described the situation as an "absolute shambles."
Southwark Council will not be taking enforcement action after 44 missing social housing units promised for a Bermondsey development never materialised.
In 2010 Notting Hill Housing’s planning application for the Bermondsey Spa development in Grange Walk pledged 44 homes at social rents (council rent levels) out of a total of 205 new flats.
But when council officers came to sign the binding legal agreement in 2011, the wording had switched to ‘Affordable Housing Units’, which means rents can be set at up to 80 percent of market levels.
In March this year Notting Hill Housing confirmed to Liberal Democrat councillor for Grange ward, Ben Johnson there were no social rented properties on site.
After the News reported the ‘missing homes’ to the council in May, Cllr Mark Williams, Southwark’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, told us he was “looking into the rent levels proposed at Bermondsey Spa” and that “appropriate action” would be taken.
In a document providing an update on the Aylesbury Estate compulsory purchase orders, the council revealed last week that it “has taken legal advice and will not be taking enforcement action” in relation to the 44 units.
Instead Cllr Williams is calling for the 44 social rented homes to be built elsewhere in the borough.
“We confirmed to the Planning Inspector last week that we will not be taking enforcement action against Notting Hill Housing Group in relation to the Section 106 agreement for the Bermondsey Spa site C5 development,” said Cllr Williams.
“We have received advice that a legal challenge would not be successful, we are instead calling on Notting Hill to replace the 44 missing social rent homes that were not provided at social rent on this site, elsewhere in the borough. We expect them to do just that,” he added.
A spokesperson for Notting Hill Housing Trust confirmed “There are no plans to change rents at The Exchange (also known as Bermondsey Spa). This honours the obligations on rent levels set out in the [legal] agreement. However, we are in dialogue with Southwark Council about providing more social rent homes in the borough.”
Cllr Johnson described the situation as “an absolute shambles.”
“When a planning committee votes for socially rented homes, that is what the developer should deliver.
“How on earth are the council going to provide the thousands of new council homes that we need if they can’t get 44 at The Exchange?”