Labour votes to cut affordable housing on Grove Market development

The controversial Grove Market development was back at Planning Board last Thursday, as the developer sought permission to reduce the amount of affordable housing it had agreed to provide as part of the development in October 2011.

It had come back to the council arguing that the scheme had been 'market-tested' and was unviable - and therefore it should be allowed to reduce levels of affordable housing.

Eltham South councillor Adam Thomas attended the meeting and strongly argued that the application should be turned down.

It was clear from when the original application came forward in March 2011 that it was economically unviable and after reviewing the publicly available statement of accounts for the developer Eltham Renaissance it is clear that it is in millions of pounds of debt to Allied Irish Bank - therefore it is highly unlikely that a cut in affordable housing will make any difference to the overall viability of the development, when so much money is owed on the site.

Despite pointing these facts out - the Labour members of the committee voted for the cut in affordable housing and a loss of community benefits, without any guarantees from the developer about when work would start.

In fact the developer then announced that work would not start until Summer 2013 - despite assurances from the council that they would be on site within the next month!

Following the meeting Cllr Thomas said:

"This development goes from the sublime to the ridiculous, Conservative councillors and residents raised strong concerns about the economic viability of the development in 2009 and 2011, yet Labour haven't listened and are now in the invidious position of voting for cuts to affordable housing provision, to rescue what was essentially bad commercial decision making."

"Residents have again been left in limbo by Eltham Renaissance and Greenwich Council, with no prospect of the existing buildings even being demolished and the ongoing threats to health and safety from a dilapidated site and now we have Labour councillors allowing the developer to get away with not fulfilling their commitments to the community agreed only last October."