GLA disclosure on New Bermondsey Housing Action Zone

Following a Freedom of Information  request the Greater London Authority have disclosed new information in relation to the developer Renewal scheme for Surrey Canal Road or New Bermondsey this area includes land leased by Millwall FC.

The GLA say:

“As you are aware, we originally thought there was no due diligence on the proposal we were working on with Lewisham officers to increase the level of affordable housing, which was referenced in the report you forwarded. However, on further examination of our files we found a report which had been written but not actioned further. We have therefore identified two reports within scope of your request:

• Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) “Scheme Acceleration Commentary”
• Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) HOUSING ZONES DUE DILIGENCE LB LEWISHAM
Transaction 1 & 2 New Bermondsey”

These two reports have been released to the public in a redacted form by the GLA.

The Cushman & Wakefied report can be read  here: GLA Cush 7731_-_lewisham_hz_-_cw_new_bermondsey_unit_acceleration_report_10_11_16_redacted

The Lambert Smith Hampton HAZ Due Diligence report is here: GLA LSH report 7731_-_housing_zones_due_dilligence_-_lb_lewisham_redacted

A document attributed to Lambert Smith Hampton put the whole New Bermondsey scheme on hold when it was discovered during the Compulsory Purchase Order consideration by Lewisham Council on 27th September 2016. This was quite dramatic for local government. A contemporary account in the local newspaper, The Newsshopper is here

On 19th February 2018, the GLA announced that the £20 million Housing Action Zone money was to be withdrawn. A report in the South London Press is here.

Phoenix Community Housing – 10 years on the Board Cllr Alan Hall reflects

DF282A01-32D5-4D56-9678-5A5B97EE217CPhoenix Community Housing AGM was held in the Green Man Community Hub on Tuesday, 11th September. Phoenix is a community gateway housing association which is tenant led and a majority of tenants sit on the board. The Chair and Vice-Chair are local tenants. It is described as a resident led co-operative housing association.

There is a 10 year maximum term for board members. At this AGM Cllr Alan Hall stepped down as a board member after serving the maximum term.

In thanking the Chair, Cllr Alan Hall said:

“It’s been an incredible journey with the Phoenix Pioneers, Pat Fordham MBE, who believed that the tenants could run their own homes.

Jim Ripley, Chief Executive has used his professionalism and Chris Starke has done an incredible job as Finance Director in the most turbulent times in housing and we have secured an American Bond for future developments worth £60,000,000. [Further details are here]

We are building social homes. I am proud to have been part of the team that developed

  • Hazelhurst Court – an extra care centre on Beckenham Hill. This allows those with some care needs to move out of their house or flat into an award winning apartment with care services on hand anf it frees up much needed social housing for those on the waiting list too.
  • Fellowship Inn – a community project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund in this Grade II Listed pub – a former cabinet member said that he had doubted anyone would wish to go to this pub – or something more colourful.

But, I remember helping to appoint Blacks architects for this building – the Green Man  Community Hub on Bromley Road – and working out whether we had enough room for toilets and the credit union! What a fantastic space it is.

But someone is also responsible. I would like to thank Mushtaq Malik of local Lewisham developers, Renewal and their greed and incompetence that allowed a development to collapse and an opportunity for a land swap with L&Q to build a co-operative headquarters for local residents.

I would like to thank the tenants and residents for their patience and support over the last ten years.

I will always be around as your Councillor and friend.”

 

Some historic archive news articles:

Flats rejected by Planning Inspector agrees with Planning Committee rejection despite Lewisham Council’s officers recommendation to approve:  https://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/1651165.Flat_plans_turned_down_at_inquiry/

Lewisham Council planning recommend approval of Renewal Plan  http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/Data/Planning%20Committee%20C/20061109/Agenda/ec84e75b39fd4bb2bd9866b1b091a4ebGreenManPH355357BromleyRoad9November2006.PDF

http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/938654.Minty_moved_on_from_at-risk_pub/

http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/1298566.Campaigning_to_save_derelict_pub/

https://mob.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/london/2006/09/351556.html

Renewal Beckenham Limited details http://suite.endole.co.uk/insight/company/05149673-renewal-beckenham-limited

http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/11004622.Bellingham_Green_Man_pub_turned_Phoenix_community_hub_shortlisted_for_Building_Award/

Mushtaq Malik https://www.propertyweek.com/features/millwall-regeneration-into-the-lions-den/5088406.article

Green Man planning Renewal  Beckenham Limited   http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/1298566.Campaigning_to_save_derelict_pub/

Phoenix CH plans approved  https://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/9372639.Green_Man_pub_to_be_demolished_after_8-year_closure/

Council ‘Scrutiny has come of age’ or has it?

Paul Wheeler is the founder of the Political Skills Forum and a journalist for the Municipal Journal amongst other publications. The Political Skills Forum gave expert advice on good governance.

In an article he wrote for the Municipal Journal the headline states that ‘Scrutiny has come of age’ and cites Cllr Alan Hall’s work on Lewisham Council challenging their Executive and directly elected Mayor over plans to regenerate Surrey Canal Road or New Bermondsey as it was rebranded by the developer Renewal.

The Fabian Society have published an article based on the Millwall FC and New Bermondsey regeneration plans and the scrutiny process around the formal decisions. It begins by saying that speaking the truth to power is always a risky business, no more so than when considering how millions of pounds of public money should be shovelled into developments and contracts.

Paul Wheeler writes:

“And that in a nutshell is the purpose of scrutiny.- ‘asking difficult questions of those in power’. Awkward yes especially when those in the spotlight are your friends and colleagues but exactly what was intended by the legislation and what the public want. It’s taken a while but scrutiny has come of age.”

However, as Paul Wheeler acknowledged in recent correspondence: “All councils especially those with big majorities need strong scrutiny but sadly doesn’t make you a lot of friends!”

Lewisham Council returned a total redwash of all Labour Councillors at the May 2018 local elections and at the AGM immediately after Cllr Alan Hall’s style of scrutiny did not win favour with the new administration.

Paul Wheeler went on to write:

“many Leaders and Chief Executives seem to have operated on the ‘mushroom principle’ (keep them in the dark and feed them on …..) when announcing major development to the rest of the council). The cynics were always dubious whether councillors of the same party would ever effectively challenge their own colleagues in the cabinet.”

But it takes leadership to recognise scrutiny’s importance and it will be interesting to see whether Lewisham Council has learnt the right lessons or whether the ‘mushroom principle’ will surface with a vengeance.

 

 

Read Paul Wheeler’s full article here:

The admirable Centre for Public Scrutiny (declaration of interest I helped establish it in the early 2000’s) organises an annual Scrutiny Awards. Well for the forthcoming year can I put forward Cllr Alan Hall Chair of Scrutiny in the London Borough of Lewisham (declaration of interest I am a resident) as the Scrutiny Hero for 2017

MJ readers may have noticed over the last few weeks the unravelling of a major development scheme in Lewisham. Much of the attention has focused on the noisy protests of Millwall football supporters (club motto ‘No-one likes us we don’t care’). However the real hard work has been the diligent questioning and hard work of scrutiny councillors led by Cllr Hall

Football and local politics is a heady mix and I suspect that its current manifestation  has more to do with land values in a London Borough than any moral high ground. But put aside the noise and the success story is that scrutiny works.

Since the Local Government Act of 2000 the scrutiny role has always been the poor relation of local government. Deprived of resources by local councils it has been seen as the job for those councillors who couldn’t make the cabinet. As a consequence many Leaders and Chief Executives seem to have operated on the ‘mushroom principle’ (keep them in the dark and feed them on …..) when announcing major development to the rest of the council. The cynics were always dubious whether councillors of the same party would ever effectively challenge their own colleagues in the cabinet.

That perception of scrutiny was always unfair but the day to day work never attracted the attention of the media. Now that is changing. Elsewhere in London an all party group of councillors in Westminster have called in the decision of the Cabinet to vest  public land to the controversial Garden Bridge Project. In Bolton backbench councillors are asking difficult questions to the leadership about a grant to a local law firm.

And that in a nutshell is the purpose of scrutiny.- ‘asking difficult questions of those in power’. Awkward yes especially when those in the spotlight are your friends and colleagues but exactly what was intended by the legislation and what the public want. It’s taken a while but scrutiny has come of age.