The chairman of Wandsworth’s planning committee has said the council had no option but to allow the developers behind Battersea Power Station to make changes to its affordable housing quota because the project faces “serious challenges”.
In a statement today Richard Field said the committee “had a very difficult choice between accepting a potentially lower number of affordable homes, or refusing the application and risk losing all of them”.
Field’s comments came after a meeting this week, where developers were given the go-ahead to bring forward 386 affordable homes, putting a question mark over a further 250.
Although Battersea, which will eventually provide thousands of homes, was originally required to include 636 affordable units, it will now build the first 386 before 2020, with the final 250 up in the air until a review at the end of the scheme.
The new rules mean if, once 90 per cent of Battersea’s apartments have been sold, the Battersea Power Station Development Company has made a 15 per cent rate of return (IRR), the company will push ahead with the rest of the affordable quota.
If it does not reach that rate of return, those homes will not be built, while a higher IRR will mean extra affordable homes. However, its current IRR is eight per cent – just over half that required.
In a statement today, Field added: “This development also directly funds the Tube extension which is bringing 25,000 jobs to Battersea, so the stakes are extremely high.
“I believe we made the right choice and in doing so have safeguarded the delivery of thousands of other affordable homes across the Nine Elms regeneration area which are dependent on the Northern Line Extension being delivered.
“This change also means that 386 affordable homes will now be built by the power station developer in 2020, two years earlier than previously planned.”
A spokesperson for Battersea Power Station said:
“Battersea Power Station is determined to deliver 15 per cent affordable homes, equating to 686 homes, and the team is working very hard to make that happen.
“We understand that asking for flexibility on when the affordable homes are delivered across this 15 year project is not straight forward, but our priority is to make good on the trust people have placed in us by starting on the first 386 affordable homes this year, which is three years earlier than the requirement in the original planning consent.”
The power station has been beset by rumours it is struggling, particularly since London’s top-end housing market began to stagnate. In October last year figures from JLL suggested average value growth for property in the area was set to fall to six per cent by 2020, from 35 per cent between 2011 and the end of 2015.
However, in September last year the scheme landed a coup when Apple announced it was planning to move its UK headquarters to the scheme, leasing 500,000 sq ft across six floors in the power station.