By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter
Hundreds of new homes were approved for a vacant site in New Cross by Lewisham’s strategic planning committee on Thursday.
The plans include 324 homes between three and 12 storeys, a new GP, gym, shared working-from-home space, and community facilities for the New Cross Gate Trust on the site at the corner of Briant and Besson Street.
The land used to be home to a council estate and a pub, which were demolished in the late 2000s to make way for a residential mixed-use scheme.
But the development, which included plans for 173 homes, was never built, and the site has been vacant ever since.
The new scheme is a joint venture between Lewisham council and private landlord Grainger PLC.
Just over 35 per cent of the homes – 114 – will be let at London Living Rent, while 210 will be privately rented.
Lewisham’s target on new developments is 50 per cent affordable homes, but planning case officer David Robinson told the committee that the scheme had been viability tested and 35 per cent was the “maximum” that was feasible.
Cllr Sakina Sheikh asked why there was no social housing available, but praised the fact that the scheme was tenure blind, meaning people paying LLR will be mixed with private.
Planning officer David Robinson said the scheme was part of a wider portfolio of housing being delivered.
He said: “This site is delivering a specific tenure, delivered towards a specific need, and social rented units are being delivered elsewhere in the borough through other sites.
“It’s not possible for a council to just deliver social rented units, we also need to acknowledge other products and tenures that are required in the borough.”
It was also said that there was a “relatively low proportion” of private homes in the area, demonstrating a “need”.
Bellingham Cllr Alan Hall, who asked to speak at the meeting, raised concerns about the potential rise in building costs in future and whether, as a result, the amount of affordable housing would be able to be delivered.
On the lack of social housing offered, he said: “Monique (Wallace, planning manager) said we hope to address the squeezed middle, I would say, what about the crushed bottom?”
Councillors asked how much the LLR flats would be rented for – although the rate changes every year based on median income per ward, the council’s head of planning said the rate at the moment is £1,030pcm for a one-bed, £1,145 for a two-bed, and £1,260 for a three-bed.
The joint application was approved by eight committee members, while Cllr Suzannah Clarke abstained.
Pictured top: A computer-generated image of what the homes, in Besson Stret, could look like
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