March 12 2014 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Senior reporter
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Slow sales of luxury flats at Ilford’s iconic Pioneer Point is threatening a cash pledge aimed at easing the housing crisis in one of Redbridge’s most deprived areas.
Developers behind Pioneer Point are trying to reduce the funding they promised to provide for low cost housing.
The flats went on sale more than a year ago, but uptake has been slower than expected. Redbridge Council was due to receive more than £3million for affordable housing when three quarters of apartments were filled.
The skyscrapers tower over Loxford, which has the highest number of housing benefit claimants in Redbridge. Demand for social housing far outstrips supply and critics say a lack of affordable homes has caused overcrowding and sub-standard accommodation.
When Pioneer Point was being built in 2009, it was hailed by a council spokesman as a “new high-quality landmark in the oldest part of Ilford, providing much-needed new housing”.
Independent Cllr Filly Maravala said social housing, not premium apartments, were needed in the area.
The ward councillor for Loxford added: “If they can’t afford the [affordable housing obligation], they shouldn’t have built it.
“How do they build flats costing £250,000 in the most deprived area of Ilford?
“It was always going to be a disaster.”
Council leader Cllr Keith Prince emphasised that the “iconic building” was a commercial venture.
He added: “They wouldn’t be the first to reduce their affordable housing obligation, but it is disappointing.”
Simon Marks, an associate planner at property consultant Montagu Evans, which is handling the application, said the change was for “commercially sensitive” reasons.
He added: “We’re trying to reduce it but the number will be part of a discussion with the local authority.
“It still hasn’t reached the level of 75 per cent occupation so we’re doing this in anticipation of when it does.”