Saturday, 25 February 2017

East London scheme left ‘unviable’ after £150m funding bid failure

Barking development dealt blow by Osborne

An 11,000-home east London development has been left ‘unviable’ after it was not allocated any of a £1 billion infrastructure fund announced by George Osborne last week.

Barking and Dagenham Council had expected the chancellor’s autumn statement to include approximately £150 million funding for a short railway extension from Barking to Barking Riverside, but was left ‘extremely disappointed’ after the development was overlooked in favour of other projects, including a nearby theme park.

John Biggs, London assembly member for city and east, said the mayor’s office had bid for funding, but the chancellor ‘didn’t prioritise it’.

‘If we are serious about delivering the 11,000 homes at Barking Riverside, something like this needs to happen.’

The funding would have allowed a joint venture between the Greater London Authority, Bellway Homes and Barking Riverside Ltd to build 10,800 homes, more than 4,000 of which would have been affordable.

The homes have been granted planning permission by the council.

Without investment the scheme remains unviable as poor transport links suppress the demand for homes on the site.

Ken Jones, director of housing for Barking and Dagenham, said: ‘It’s extremely disappointing that where we have an opportunity to create a town of the size of Sevenoaks with a high proportion of family housing, we haven’t been given the chance to bring it forward.’

Last Thursday Mr Osborne announced £1 billion of infrastructure loans to help ‘unblock’ housing developments around the country.

One of the nine sites under consideration for a loan is London Paramount - a Disneyland-style theme park set to deliver ‘at least’ 1,500 homes in Dartford, Kent.

‘I think that’s an “interesting” take on priorities,’ said Mr Jones. He added that without transport links the Barking site could only deliver 200 or 300 homes. The council will continue to lobby for funding.

The Treasury did not respond to requests for a comment.

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