After several weeks of speculation it has been confirmed today that Redrow PLC is pulling out of new London projects because of COVID-19 losses and this includes the Alton Estate Regeneration. Redrow was chosen by Wandsworth Council to be the development partner in 2017 and I welcome the Council’s commitment to finding another partner to continue the Alton Estate Regeneration.
Residents have been waiting for the regeneration for over 10 years in deteriorating housing and with reduced services and so further delays will be very frustrating. I am calling for an urgent meeting with the Council to hear their plans to agree a new partner as soon as possible.
Redrow’s plans were controversial and this could offer an opportunity for a partner that will listen to local residents and offer more affordable and social housing.
We need a new plan now. I will work with the local Councillors and the Mayor of London to help get this project onto the right track. The £108 million which Wandsworth was going to invest with Redrow PLC should be ringfenced for Roehampton and must be put into a new project.
We want an open tendering process and invite in a range of social housing and community building experts who will care about Roehampton and its fantastic communities.
Over 500 people told me last summer that the plans did not offer a good enough deal, and I have stood up for those people from the start. Residents want more and better youth facilities, more and better transport links, affordable space for community groups, and to keep the historic trees and green spaces. They rightly want to know they are getting a good deal if they are going to have to live with 10 years of building and disruption.
Wandsworth Council has been unwilling to stand up for Roehampton for decades but now have the opportunity to ensure that the Regeneration goes ahead in the way the community wants. We have seen cut after cut after cut – youth clubs closed, community centres closed, residents’ complaints about poorly-maintained homes unanswered, rubbish not collected, and housing waiting lists growing.
Redrow PLC and Wandsworth Council were never committed to providing the affordable homes in Roehampton for the community that desperately needs them. The local Councillors and I constantly receive pleas from local residents for housing and local services which meet their needs. But Wandsworth Council kept presenting a proposal which was offering over 800 expensive private flats and a tiny number of additional council homes – a proposal that was going to cut the provision of space for youth services, and presented no answers to the poor transport links or lack of space for community groups.
The original reason for Roehampton having a regeneration was to address the deprivation and poor health outcomes in the area, and in the many years of slow progress on the regeneration, these have not been addressed.
It was the pandemic which has forced Redrow plc to pull out, but the Council must now concede that the plans which were finally submitted in June 2019 were unfit for purpose. Redrow and the Council had to go back to the drawing board several times last year.
A youth club has been closed. Good homes have been boarded up. Temporary Accommodation has been offered in properties which could have offered longer term security. Relocation of important local amenities such as the ATM and Post Office were botched. So many steps taken for this project have missed the point.
Roehampton has been promised so much. This can now be a positive turning point for Roehampton, towards a Regeneration which works for everyone. This is the test for Wandsworth Council now – will it listen to the residents of Roehampton?
Joint statement from Redrow Homes and Wandsworth Borough Council
Paul Muldowney, Managing Director at Redrow’s Greater London region, commented,
“Following a review of our schemes in London and the wider market, we recently announced we will scale back operations in London. As part of this we have taken the difficult decision to step away from the redevelopment of the Alton Estate and approached the Council to request a managed exit. New home delivery in London is a challenge compounded by increasing costs and a two-tier planning system.
“Our designs for the new community at the Alton Estate have been prepared to provide new homes alongside a wide range of community facilities and commercial space for local residents which have helped to move the scheme forward. We would like to reassure the local community that the homes at Bessborough Road, where we are currently on site, will be completed by Redrow. Taking the regeneration project to this stage has been the result of hard work and close collaboration with Wandsworth council, we will continue to work closely together to ensure a smooth transition.”
Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council commented:
“It is deeply disappointing that Redrow feels unable to progress with this transformative scheme and, as a result, the Council has taken the difficult but pragmatic decision that it is better to look at alternative options rather than try and proceed with an unwilling partner.
Despite these unprecedented times, the Council remains completely committed to delivering the transformational regeneration the residents of the Alton Estate expect and deserve. We will be exploring options as to how to deliver the scheme without Redrow and to maintain momentum subject to planning permission being granted. I know residents on the Alton are looking forward to better opportunities in the area and we are determined to work harder than ever to meet these expectations. Our commitment to improving the lives of our residents remains unchanged and I hope critics of the scheme can now get behind our efforts to transform the estate and do what is best for residents.”