Wandsworth prepares housing zone bid

Out-Law News | 22 Sep 2014 | 4:57 pm | 2 min. read

Wandsworth Council has prepared an outline bid for the area surrounding the Winstanley and York Road estates and Clapham Junction station to be designated as a housing zone under a scheme introduced by the mayor of London in June.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) intends to designate a total of 20 housing zones with relaxed planning restrictions across London, in order to help bring forward large housing developments on previously developed land. Each housing zone will receive a share of £400 million in loans from the GLA and central government towards the cleaning up of brownfield sites and the delivery of infrastructure to allow rapid development.

The area around the Winstanley and York Road estates was earmarked in the housing zone bid prospectus (34-page / 1.2 MB PDF), published by the mayor of London in June, as offering "an opportunity to develop significant mixed housing growth". According to a report (7-page / 360 KB PDF) from the Council's director of housing and community services, Council officers have produced an outline bid proposing the designation of the area surrounding the estates.

Among the draft bid's 'key asks', outlined in the report, is a request for funding to support the relocation of a bus stand away from the core development area and the provision of temporary open space and leisure facilities for public use during the course of development. The Council proposes to request permission to use Right to Buy receipts to support development at the housing zone, and may seek "preferential borrowing rates below the usual Public Works Loan Board rates for any Council borrowing that may be required", the report said.

According to the report, the bid would request the mayor of London's assistance in: gaining the support of Transport for London for the relocation of the bus stand; working alongside Network Rail to ensure swift delivery of plans to improve Clapham Junction station; and "working with Thames Water to ensure that works to the Falconbrook pumping station are planned with due respect to the need to secure new housing and to the benefit of the local neighbourhood".

The bid would call on the GLA to endorse a document being prepared by the Council to set the general terms of the development of the core of the sites, and to provide support for the delivery of new homes in a mix of tenures, the report said. The Council has said that it may also ask the GLA to underwrite sales risk "in order to de-risk early development".

The report warned against agreeing to the imposition of "onerous conditions" on the Council and expressed concerns about the potential for the Council to lose control over the delivery of housing development at the proposed housing zone.

It said that the Council would "need to be assured that its own level of control and governance is effectively retained" following the likely creation of a delivery board including the GLA, developers and landowners. Noting that funding received was likely to be conditional on meeting targets for the number of homes delivered, the report said that "the Council will need to ensure that the [delivery framework] agreement does not hold it responsible for actions over which it does not have control".

The proposal to submit a bid was approved at a meeting of the Council's housing and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee last week. The final decision on whether a bid should be submitted to the GLA is expected at a meeting of the Council's executive this evening.

The deadline for London boroughs to submit bids for housing zone designation is 30 September.