Developers are leaving councillors guessing as to whether the completed plans for the regeneration of Woodberry Down will definitely have a higher level of socially-rented homes as a result of recently added flats on completion.
Updated plans were approved on at the 12 December meeting of Hackney’s planning sub-committee to squeeze in seven more homes for social rent to the upcoming Block B on Woodberry Grove, part of Phase 2 of the project.
Clr Vincent Stops (Lab, Hackney Central) asked representatives of property developers Berkeley Homes if there was an updated target for socially-rented properties on the project, which is a partnership endeavour between Berkeley and the Town Hall.
Dan Massie, pre-development director at Berkeley Homes, said: “That is something that will be subject to what the objectives of the masterplan could be and how we could achieve it, and that’s something that we’ll be talking to officers about.
“You could [take those seven off the total], but it’s not the strategic direction of travel we’re taking at the moment, which is where we’re going with Phase 3.”
Cllr Stops responded: “So, yes and no is the answer.”
The amount of socially rented property available on the newly redeveloped estate has come under the microscope in recent months, after figures released by the Green Party suggested a net loss of social housing in the borough could be traced back to the Woodberry Down project.
Whilst Hackney Council have hotly contested leader of the Green Party Sian Berry’s findings since the City Hall Greens released London-wide figures back in September, the Town Hall has to date been unable to directly refute them with statistics of its own.
The lack of council-backed stats for homes previously demolished on Woodberry Down has been blamed on poor record-keeping dating back to the early 2000s.
Cllr Stops (Lab, Hackney Central) added: “The council will share the profit [from the completed project], and we will invest it, I think, I hope, in social housing.
“So we have some, as the freeholder and partners of Berkeley Homes, we have some leverage. Not that it’s a material planning consideration, so strike that from the record.”
Edit – This article was updated at 9:04 on Friday 14 December. Cllr Stops had been quoted as asking about net increase of socially-rented homes in comparison with the original estate, rather than an increase on the original number of social homes targeted under the plans.