Streatham Soapbox – Housing and Planning roundup

Firstly a big thank you to all who have gotten in touch with issues, information and help! We have had stuff coming out of the woodwork (as it were) for three months now and we think we've found the causes of some issues.

We've heard stories of people in very secure jobs trying to rent but have been told they need £50,000 income per annum net between them because demand in the area is so high. We've recommended speaking to other agents, particularly the independents who advertise with us.

In the past month we've learned a lot about the dynamics of the Lambeth property market as well. Lambeth Council have a policy to increase housing density in the borough, whilst also increasing social housing by 1000 units over the next five years. Unfortunately this means the policy is systemically skewed towards developers who can drag the council along by delivering affordable units in dribs and drabs. Wyatt Park and Fawcett Close, which we've previously covered will deliver eight units only for all the upset they've caused. Megabowl has 28 affordable units only (up from the originally consented 21 under Glentoran Land Ltd) and a recent development of 392 flats on the South Bank had none at all.

Part of the reason is CLIPs (Co-operative Local Investment Plans) previously known as Section 106 funds or Planning Gain. CLIPs works on tiers in Lambeth – Waterloo and Vauxhall are Zone A  and the CLIPs levy there will pay for the Lambeth contribution to the Northern Line and Bakerloo extensions in Lambeth. Kennington. Oval and Clapham are Zone B (less than 60% of the Zone A levy) and the rest of the borough is Zone C (1/3rd of Zone B).

The effect on Streatham and similar areas is that residential development is relatively cheap for developers, meaning they can use statutory viability assessments to minimise social outcomes whilst maximising unit delivery and density. We have been told Lambeth simply does not have the money to robustly challenge developers on this and other issues thus many developments gain consent in spite of residents' strong opposition.

One unfortunate outcome is that although CLIPs rates are the same for retail and other large developments there isn't space for this kind of development in Streatham and CLIPS contribution of Tesco is part of the £1million going to fund a new playground on Streatham Common. Given we'll almost exclusively get residential CLIPs and as it's around 1/6th the level of the South Bank levy rate, we've no chance of getting proper transport infrastructure anytime soon.

It would have been god to hear our politicians tell us that, instead of us having to dig it out of the detail. But we that's as expected. What we have to hope for is that Lambeth can negotiate a slice of the oil revenues from underneath Gatwick as that could pay for our Tube extension all the way to the airport. Think about that when you vote!

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