Removal of social housing from Albert Embankment

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Monday 21 October 2013 2.57pm
Most of us are aware that 'mixed tenure' is a 'thin' wedge with which to prise open the door of gentrification, but Lambeth Council have excelled themselves in allowing the developer to entirely remove social housing status from any property on this private riverside development, regarding which, of course, a premium will be attached for a riverside location. 'Solution' to the shortfall created: re-locate the six flats [that's right, six - it won't take any of us too long to count these on the joints of the two fingers of your choice] to an 'inland' location, in order to remove the benefits that the super-rich so deservedly are paying market rates for....
Monday 21 October 2013 4.15pm
We need to be careful about terminology - there was no actual 'social' housing proposed in the riverside scheme before the latest change.

There were 14 shared-ownership 'affordable' units which have been replaced with 6 off-site social rented homes.

So therefore fewer homes, but arguably more genuinely affordable.

Whether the council was right to accept that trade-off is another matter.

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Monday 21 October 2013 4.17pm
Point taken, thanks, James.
Monday 21 October 2013 8.23pm
I do not know how affordable the shared ownership flats would have been but given the site I would doubt that the term "affordable" could truly be applied but 14 were proposed. Now there will be 6 social rented homes off-site which seems a net loss of 8 homes, and a loss of land to Vauxhall farm.

It won unanimous approval from the planning applications committee. None of the underhand business that we have come to expect this decision was taken in the open, almost, now that is a suprise.

I close with the words of Councillor Peter Robbins, cabinet member for housing which leave a bad taste in my mouth, you decide how you feeel.

"This is an example of imagination, collaboration and pragmatism"
Monday 21 October 2013 10.04pm
So, in summary so far, we are talking about a small number of highly-desirable flats in a riverside development that offered what was already a token amount of housing affordable to middle-income households, and presumably only included in the original plan as the 'least painful' way of being seen to conform to the requirements, ethical or statutory, to take account of the Vauxhall demographic [however meanly].

It's also true that a proportion of the original 14 might have fallen out of any normal scale of affordability sooner rather than later, if/when owners put them on the open market.

I don't think the loss of land to the farm should be under-estimated either. I live near, but not in, Vauxhall, and think that it has little enough else going for it amenity-wise. Robbins' queasy little homily also jumped out at me, by the way...

The unaninimity and lack of clandestine deal-making is, sadly, likely to be a reflection of the lie, apparently unquestioned across the political spectrum, that gentrification's benefits will inevitably outweigh its detriment to the local population.

When I saw that Southwwark Council had enlisted Phil Spencer to trumpet the colonisation of the area from Elephant to further south along the Holloway Road in 2005, I felt the writing was very much on the wall for working-class inner London, whether inscribed as 'funky' graffiti art or not...
Monday 21 October 2013 10.32pm
I was worried about this deal too, that social housing tenants were being denied to right to live somewhere deemed only worthy for wealthy buyers, also that the farm was losing land. So, I emailed the farm last week, to get their side and they said they are happy that it's happening. They have some unused properties that are being converted, are not losing land and are gaining new offices. I also visited the farm again last week and it's gorgeous there. Easily as nice as the river, arguably better for families as you've got some nice farm animals! And as James Hatts points out, this is social housing rather than 'affordable' (ie. unaffordable).

This is what they say:

Thank you for your e-mail

We are very excited that our planning application was approved this week. We will not be losing any Farm Land, and will benefit from the scheme by building a second classroom to increase our school groups / youth club programs as well as building a cafe and offices for staff. We will have the entire ground floor, increasing our footprint.

Many thanks
Monday 21 October 2013 11.27pm
Many thanks for this clarification, Hetty.
Tuesday 21 January 2014 10.45am
The promotional video for the 'Merano Residences' scheme is quite amusing

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Tuesday 21 January 2014 11.51am
Amusingly awful indeed. Any number of gems, from the "heraldic celebration of colour" to the "inside / outside living experience" (a terrace) and the statement that "Merano is… really born of itself"
Friday 6 November 2015 1.15pm
From the article about Sadiq Khan and Cllr Peck's visist to the site (
"What you've got in Lambeth is a council on the side of its residents and as mayor I'm going to be on the side of Londoners."
Mr Khan said that if elected to City Hall next year he will set up a 'Homes for Londoners' agency to broker new housing developments.

Lambeth Council leader Lib Peck added: "As a planning authority we have been very clear that we want wherever possible to build [affordable housing] on-site – that is our preferred option – but we do have to realise that that sometimes doesn't give us as good a deal.

Or, alternatively, they might disappear into a back room with the developers and come out with a completely different view; like they've recently done over the Garden Bridge.
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