Next phase of Greenwich Peninsula build announced

Boris Johnson  looks .jpgThe long-awaited redevelopment of the Greenwich Peninsula is set to start after the Olympic Games after the next phase of building was announced today.

Boris Johnson was on the Peninsula this morning to see plans for 1,300 new homes and 600 student dwellings which could be built later this year.

However, the amount of affordable housing in the development by Quintain and Lend Lease has been reduced from 38 per cent to 25 per cent.

Detailed planning applications are expected to be submitted to Greenwich Council in April, with construction set to begin in the autumn, if approved. It should be completed by 2015.

Boris Johnson and Eric Pickles.jpgMr Johnson was joined by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to view the plans with the Mayor's office now in charge of development after responsibilities of the Homes and Communities Agency were passed to him.

"The great thing about this project is it's been stalled for so long but at last it's moving on," said Mr Johnson.

"That's the crucial thing. It's now up to Quintain and Lend Lease to drive on and build it out. I'm sure they will want to show a similar dynamism."

Mr Johnson defended the reduced amount of affordable housing in this stage of the development, which will see five plots built.

He said: "It wasn't a problem stopping it going ahead. We don't set a particular target for schemes, but I'm proud we have delivered a record number of affordable homes over the last four years.

"The affordable rent model is showing signs of being much more deliverable than everybody was saying a year ago. The difficulty will be in three or four years time how we can keep that going. We'll have to get some more money."

Mr Pickles added: "What we want to do is ensure we build something here that the people in the area can be very proud of. A place people want to call home.

"I like to see mixed housing. I don't like to see the building of a millionaires' ghetto or social housing put elsewhere. People have to live together like a real community. Given its geography this is a chance in years to come people will be proud of it."

Greenwich Peninsula480.jpgThis stage of development will be finished Quintain said 10,000 proposed new homes will be built, alongside 2.5million sq ft of commercial space and 350,000sq ft of retail space. There will also be new schools, community facilities and parkland.

However, Greenwich Council was less enthusiastic about the announcement. Although welcoming the move to promote development on the Peninsula, it criticised the delay and said it was sceptical about the promises made.

A spokeswoman said: "The Peninsula represents one of the biggest and most exciting regeneration sites in Europe and we must push forward with its redevelopment. Today's announcement appears to be yet another launch for Greenwich Peninsula Regeneration Ltd (GPRL) about getting ready to build houses.

"They have had outline planning permission for eight years. We need action not photo opportunities.

"The opportunity to develop new homes existed years before anyone had heard of the credit crunch and yet all they have done is sit on the land.

"Even today, no detailed planning applications for sites they claim to be developing have been submitted to the Council. The media circus today will be met with dismay and distrust by those of us who have seen such spin so many times before."

The Council would prefer the GPRL consortium to leave the Peninsula and hand the land back to partners it says will match its ambition for development.

"The land transfer to the Mayor is also a concern," said the spokeswoman.

"During his period of office, the Mayor has pulled major transport infrastructure projects from Greenwich which has hindered growth and development, and the transfer of land to him raises very real fears that any profits from developments that do take place will not be invested in Greenwich.

"We are concerned that instead this will go to pay off debts he has accrued on the Olympic Park. There needs to be transparency about how the revenue from land deals is used."

There was also criticism about the amount of affordable housing in the scheme.

She said: "While City Hall and the developers seek to reduce the levels of affordable housing proposed for the peninsula, we seek an assurance that such funding will be used to honour the commitments made by the developers and City Hall to provide the proportion of affordable housing to which they agreed in legal documents upon the granting of planning permission."