Closed door developer deals in the borough will be made public if new planning policy is passed.
The announcement from Southwark Council follows an exclusive interview with the News in July when leader Peter John declared his intention to publish the documents detailing how much affordable housing developers said they could build on new sites.
Former Heygate residents Adrian Glasspool and Jerry Hewitt battled for three years to see the ‘viability assessment’ for the development which would replace their estate after the proposals did not meet the council’s minimum affordable housing requirement of 35 percent.
After Southwark Council spent £56,000 in legal fees (to be paid back by the developer, Lendlease) fighting Mr Glasspool and the Information Commissioner to keep the document secret, earlier this year it was finally handed over following a landmark ruling, which changed the game for developers and local authorities everywhere.
As other Labour councils like Greenwich and Islington moved to create policies which would force developers to make their viability assessments public in future – Cllr John told the News Southwark would follow suit.
A new planning policy proposed for the borough will force developers to deliver the 35 percent minimum of affordable housing or publish their assessments which say why it is not ‘viable’ for them to do so. “We know the public has had concerns about the way developments are negotiated, and we promised that we would find a way to put all this information in the public domain,” said councillor Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration and new homes. We know developers don’t want to share this information for commercial reasons, but we want our residents to see the workings and understand that we do all we can to get the best deal for Southwark.
“We think we’ve found a great way forward – if developers don’t want to face this public scrutiny then they will have to commit to 35 percent affordable housing from the outset. It’s a win-win for the people of Southwark,” he added.
The draft development viability planning document is now available for comment on the council’s website as part of a twelve week consultation. Once all the responses have been received, and any amendments made, the council hopes to adopt it into planning policy from March 2016. The consultation documents are available at www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200151/supplementary_planning_documents_and_guidance/3914/draft_development_viability_spd