Council accused of ‘capitulation’ after allowing developers to delay £5m affordable housing boost

The Pioneer point towers in Ilford

The Pioneer point towers in Ilford - Credit: Archant

The council has been accused of “capitulation” after allowing developers to delay a £5million payment towards affordable homes.

Developers of luxury flats at Pioneer Point in Ilford, granted planning permission in 2004, have been allowed to pay the sum in annual instalments over the next 10 years.

The council’s regulatory committee voted unanimously on Monday to accept the controversial application, which comes amid a housing crisis in the borough.

Opposition leader Cllr Paul Canal (Con, Bridge) said residents had been let down.

He said: “Better than nothing is not a negotiating position, it is supine capitulation.


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“A deal was struck, it should be honoured.”

And Cllr Gwyneth Deakins (Lib Dem, Roding) branded the situation a “shocking mess”.

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“We have to give [the developers] a chance, but if they don’t cough up pretty soon further action should be taken.”

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal (Lab, Mayfield) said the authority had “very little option”.

“We can play hardball but we may end up getting nothing,” he said.

In August the Recorder revealed more than £7m earmarked for affordable housing was used to put people in temporary accommodation, with almost 8,000 people on the housing waiting list.

Decision

But Cllr Athwal could not confirm whether the Pioneer Point money would go directly towards new homes, saying a decision would be made “in due course”.

Pioneer Point originally agreed to pay £3.78m – now worth £5m due to market changes – towards off-site housing after an initial agreement to put affordable homes inside the development was removed in 2012.

The section 106 obligation was due to come into force once its two towers were 75 per cent occupied.

But Grant Thornton, which took over as administrators in 2012, claimed the agreement prevented occupation of the south tower. Director Trevor O’Sullivan said the new payment plan was “in the interests of the council, local residents and businesses”.

The plan proposes paying £380,000 in the first year followed by annual payments of £430,000.

More than £730,000 has already been paid to the council.

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