|Recriminations Fly as Alton Estate Redevelopment Put on Hold|
Councillors play blame game after Redrow quits scheme
One of the biggest estate redevelopment schemes in the country has been paused after developer Redrow Homes had to scale back operations due to the impact of coronavirus.
This Thursday (6 August) Redrow and Wandsworth Council confirmed in a joint statement that the developer would be stepping away from the scheme on the Alton Estate in Roehampton.
Earlier this year it was reported that the Covid-19 lockdown saw Redrow’s completed sales for the year to June slump by nearly 40 per cent, and it would scale back business in the capital, prompting fears that the Alton regeneration would be abandoned.
Council leader Ravi Govindia said it was “deeply disappointing” that Redrow felt unable to progress with the scheme.
He added: “As a result, the council has taken the difficult but pragmatic decision that it is better to look at alternative options rather than try and proceed with an unwilling partner.
“Despite these unprecedented times, the council remains completely committed to delivering the transformational regeneration the residents of the Alton Estate expect and deserve.
“We will be exploring options as to how to deliver the scheme without Redrow and to maintain momentum subject to planning permission being granted. I know residents on the Alton are looking forward to better opportunities in the area and we are determined to work harder than ever to meet these expectations.
“Our commitment to improving the lives of our residents remains unchanged and I hope critics of the scheme can now get behind our efforts to transform the estate and do what is best for residents.”
Local MP Fleur Anderson said, "Residents have been waiting for the regeneration for over 10 years in deteriorating housing and with reduced services and so further delays will be very frustrating. I am calling for an urgent meeting with the Council to hear their plans to agree a new partner as soon as possible.
"Redrow’s plans were controversial and this could offer an opportunity for a partner that will listen to local residents and offer more affordable and social housing."
London Assembly Member, Leonie Cooper AM, said, “Redrow’s departure provides a golden opportunity for the Council to learn from its past mistakes on this scheme.
“Given the Council has now declared a Climate Emergency, it should first start by considering whether demolition and reconstruction is the best way ahead at all -and if this is the best way forward, then this time a development partner must be found who will involve and consult residents, engage with City Hall and present renewed plans that clearly work in the interests of the local community”.
The news has prompted a ‘blame game’ between Conservative and Labour councillors.
Cabinet member for housing, Kim Caddy, blamed “delays to a transformative scheme because of an unwieldy two-tier planning system and irresponsible politicking.”
Fellow Conservative Cllr Steffi Sutters tweeted that she felt “very sad” and that “maybe questions should be asked of the local Labour party who have done all they can to derail the scheme.”
Roehampton Labour councillor Claire Gilbert tweeted: “Questions remain over handling of the project by Wandsworth Council throughout, including the closures which have already happened in the community and other promised improvements for the area.”
Paul Muldowney, Managing Director at Redrow’s Greater London region, said in a statement:
“Following a review of our schemes in London and the wider market, we recently announced we will scale back operations in London. As part of this we have taken the difficult decision to step away from the redevelopment of the Alton Estate and approached the council to request a managed exit. New home delivery in London is a challenge compounded by increasing costs and a two-tier planning system.
“Our designs for the new community at the Alton Estate have been prepared to provide new homes alongside a wide range of community facilities and commercial space for local residents which have helped to move the scheme forward.
“We would like to reassure the local community that the homes at Bessborough Road, where we are currently on site, will be completed by Redrow. Taking the regeneration project to this stage has been the result of hard work and close collaboration with Wandsworth Council, we will continue to work closely together to ensure a smooth transition.”
Sian Bailey - Local Democracy Reporter
August 6, 2020