Greenwich council to take on residential development

The Royal Borough of Greenwich is set to embark on its first housing development, with plans afoot for six schemes of affordable housing units for rent.

The south London council will hand over an initial three sites to its development company, Meridian Home Start. They are a 38,000 sq ft former social club site on Rochester Way in Eltham, a former nursery site in Charlton and a former industrial site on Carnbrook Road in Kidbrooke.

All the homes will be affordable, with rents set at 65% of market levels or lower.

Meridian Home Start has been in place for six years, but these will be its first ventures. It was set up by the council in July 2010 as a housing delivery vehicle, but in December 2014, a decision was taken to convert the legal status of MHS from a wholly-owned council housing company into an independent charitable community benefit society.

The council plans to provide a loan of £27.6m to the company in order to facilitate the development.

‘More involved’

A further three sites have also been earmarked, which would bring the total number of homes to be developed by the company to more than 200 - and more development is likely to follow.

We are a massively important part of the London story in terms of delivering homes - Danny Thorpe, Greenwich Council

Speaking to Property Week, deputy council leader Danny Thorpe said the council was keen to be more involved in local housing provision.

“As a borough, we are making sure we are not just regulating the local property market but actually shaping it,” he said.

“We are a massively important part of the London story in terms of delivering homes. Greenwich is seeing the third-largest amount of housing being developed of all the London boroughs,” Thorpe added.

The borough has numerous estate regeneration projects under way in partnership with private sector developers, including Berkeley Homes’ £1bn Kidbrooke Village. It is also actively seeking partners for further projects of this kind.

Although it has become relatively common for councils to enter joint ventures with private developers, only a handful have set up their own development companies.

Others include Croydon, where housing vehicle Brick by Brick is in the process of developing 50 small sites in the borough that could accommodate up to 1,000 homes.

>>Read more on Greenwich’s ambitions here

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