Gove’s pledge of more cash for Thamesmead housing met with Labour scepticism

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

The Government is pledging to bankroll plans to deliver thousands of new homes along the River Thames to the tune of £500,000.

Its scheme would see more than 7,000 new homes added to Greenwich and Newham as part of Housing Secretary Michael Gove’s ‘planning Super Squad’.

But Labour say the announcement is a sham from the Government aimed to distract from its own failings.

The Housing Secretary sent a letter to the Mayor of London on Monday to claim housing provision in the capital had suffered from chronic under-delivery.

He said many opportunity areas in the London Plan had shown little progress and that 736 hectares of industrial land was stuck in the planning system.

Mr Gove said in his letter to the Mayor: “I can confirm that following discussions with Greenwich and Newham, I am prioritising these boroughs for assistance from my department’s new planning Super Squad.

“This team, which will comprise leading planners and specialists whose talents will be used to unblock major developments, will provide Greenwich and Newham with £500,000 worth of specialist support in 2024/25, helping to unlock more than 7,000 homes.”

The update follows the his announcement in July that the Government planned to deliver 10s of thousands of new homes across Beckton, Silvertown, Charlton Riverside and Thamesmead.

He said the project, named Docklands 2.0, would see the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities working alongside private developers to transform the areas and provide better transport links from east to west in the city.

Charlton Riverside has previously been cited as an area of interest by Greenwich council for 7,500 new homes across a set of low-rise buildings. The project could see more than 2,500 affordable homes being added to the space alongside 4,000 new jobs. However, the plans have not been officially picked up by a developer.

The Peabody Housing Association said in a report from last year that it owned 65 per cent of the land in Thamesmead. It has said it plans to build up to 2,600 homes in South Thamesmead, and that Thamesmead Waterfront had the potential to deliver 15,000 more homes.

A London Labour spokeswoman said of Mr Gove’s announcement: “This is nothing more than a stunt from the Government to distract from their abysmal record of failure.

“Under a Labour Mayor, housing completions in the capital have hit the highest level since the 1930s, according to the Government’s own data. London is also delivering twice the level of council homebuilding as the rest of the country combined, showing up the Tories’ dismal failure nationally.”

Pictured top: Peabody Estate homes (Picture: Google Street View)

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