An SE1 councillor has warned that poorer people are being squeezed out of the area after the leader of Southwark Council said that affordable housing cash provided by a riverside developer could be spent a mile and a half away in Walworth.
Last month we reported the decision by Southwark's planning committee to allow the developers of the Neo Bankside scheme alongside Tate Modern to pay the council £9 million in lieu of providing 34 shared ownership homes in the high-profile buildings.
Homes for sale at Neo Bankside are being marketed at prices from £1 million to £5 million.
Cathedrals ward councillor Adele Morris had urged the planning committee to impose a condition to ensure that the £9 million was spent on affordable homes in the Borough & Bankside area, but the council has now indicated that the cash could be spent more than a mile and a half away in SE17.
Speaking at a meeting of Walworth Community Council at the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre earlier this month, council leader Peter John told residents that the council might use the Bankside cash to kickstart developments on the Aylesbury Estate off Walworth Road.
"You might have read in the papers about a development called Neo Bankside which is just next to Tate Modern where the council agreed to take an in-lieu cash sum rather than affordable housing on-site," said Cllr John.
"Why? Well, because the affordable housing on-site was very limited in number and you had to earn something of the order of £90,000 to be able to afford that affordable housing.
"Now I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like affordable housing to me...
"So we said 'Give us the money'. £9 million. We think we can do more with that as a council. We can start – maybe – some building work on the Aylesbury Estate where we need to build new affordable social housing that will be truly affordable and we can do more of it for our money.
The Labour council leader's remarks have been criticised by Lib Dem councillor Adele Morris.
"Labour Southwark seem to want to milk the north of the borough for millions to spend in their own patch, in places like Peckham and Camberwell," said Cllr Morris.
"At the same time they are selling off council properties and trying to squeeze poorer people out of our area.
"Local families are crying out for more affordable housing in our area and Labour Southwark just don't seem to care."
Cllr Morris has also raised concerns about the council's proposed sale of St George's Mansions in Blackfriars Road and the adjacent Pocock Street garages. The Pocock Street site had previously been earmarked for affordable housing as part of the Elephant & Castle 'early housing' programme.