It’s all kicking off: the Boleyn Ground site, sold by West Ham FC for housing development, is at the centre of a wrangle over low-cost homes provision
The redevelopment plans for West Ham’s Upton Park ground was facing the red card treatment due to a lack of affordable homes, a new offer by developers is now being considered by the council. The landmark redevelopment of the West Ham football ground in Upton Park, east London, has scored an own goal.
Newham Council had threatened to refuse planning permission for the proposal to build 838 new homes on the site because it included only a “meagre” number of affordable homes earmarked for young Londoners priced off the property ladder by high prices, and stuck paying huge private rents.
Barratt Homes and Galliard Homes, working together on the site, had offered to make 185 of the properties — or 22 per cent — affordable. “The proposed development would therefore not accord with the council’s overriding objectives to build mixed and balanced communities,” says Christopher Paggi, principal planner at the council.
He recommended that the proposals be rejected when the report was considered by the council’s strategic development committee on Monday 19 October. Mr Paggi is asking for between 35 and 50 per cent of the new homes to be priced for first-time buyers.
Originally the plans included just six per cent affordable housing but this was increased by the developers after Sir Robin Wales, mayor of Newham, branded the offer “ridiculous”. The developers countered by upping the percentage — but say any more would make the entire project unviable.
The council disagrees, and to prove its point hired experts from banking and finance giant BNP Paribas to analyse the cost of the project and its potential profits. It is claimed the research shows more affordable homes could be provided.
More than 500 people have written to the council objecting to the project.
A joint letter signed by a dozen community leaders, including two parish priests and three local headteachers, says the area suffers from high levels of overcrowding and condemns the offering from developers as too small, saying: “This area has perhaps the most acute need in the whole of London for affordable housing for local people.” The letter goes on to claim local schools are losing teaching staff because they cannot afford to live in the area.
Last night, in an eleventh hour attempt to save the project the developers made a “revised offer” on affordable housing to Newham. A spokeswoman said a decision on the plan would therefore be deferred while council officers considered the improved offer. The case is now likely to be delayed until 2016.
West Ham United FC is due to leave its Boleyn Ground at the end of the current season and move to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.
Newham’s stance will not derail these plans, since the club sold its ground to Galliard Homes last year. Barratt has since joined the project. “Discussions with the council remain ongoing,” says a Barratt spokeswoman.