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Boleyn Ground development approved with minimum of 25% affordable housing

PUBLISHED: 12:04 11 March 2016 | UPDATED: 13:27 14 March 2016

Demonstrators protest outside the Old Town Hall in Newham ahead of a meeting about the Boleyn Ground redevelopment. Picture: Vickie Flores

Demonstrators protest outside the Old Town Hall in Newham ahead of a meeting about the Boleyn Ground redevelopment. Picture: Vickie Flores

Vickie Flores/Archant

Protesters lined the street last night to fight against the proposed demolition of the Boleyn Ground, home of West Ham United since 1904, and the development of more than 800 new homes incorporating just 25 per cent affordable housing in its stead.

Demonstrators protest outside the Old Town Hall in Newham ahead of a meeting about the Boleyn Ground redevelopment. Campaigners want the proposal to be rejected and 100% social housing built on the site. Demonstrators protest outside the Old Town Hall in Newham ahead of a meeting about the Boleyn Ground redevelopment. Campaigners want the proposal to be rejected and 100% social housing built on the site.

But despite strong objection from Upton Park residents and community and charitable groups, including the boss of homelessness charity Caritas Anchor House, the proposal was recommended for approval by members of the Strategic Development Committee.

The figure of 25pc is a far cry from the 100pc some campaigners had been calling for, but caveats in the agreement could yet see the figure pushed up to 35pc and even 50pc.

Sir Robin Wales has already stated his intention of investing £18m before the deadline of October 31 this year to purchase the additional 10pc of affordable housing to reach 35pc.

It is anticipated this money will come from affordable housing funding available to the council, which could include section 106 funding.

Demonstrators protest outside the Old Town Hall in Newham ahead of a meeting about the Boleyn Ground redevelopment. Campaigners want the proposal to be rejected and 100% social housing built on the site. Demonstrators protest outside the Old Town Hall in Newham ahead of a meeting about the Boleyn Ground redevelopment. Campaigners want the proposal to be rejected and 100% social housing built on the site.

A review mechanism that obliges the developers to increase the amount of affordable housing provided if their profits exceed, in this case, £700 per square foot – which is already being achieved in Stratford – will push the level up to 50pc.

All of these are a considerable leap from the initial offer of zero social housing proposed by the developers.

Cllr Ken Clark, who presided over the meeting at Stratford’s Old Town Hall, said: “We have always made it clear the redevelopment must work for the whole community.

“I am proud to have scored a hat trick with this scheme with hundreds of affordable homes, jobs and a lasting legacy for the area.”

The site isn’t due to be handed over to joint developers Barratt London and Galliard Homes until later this year, once the Hammers have vacated their historic home and moved to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford at the end of the current football season.

The Boleyn development will include a mix of 842 one, two, three and four bedroom properties and incorporates 211 affordable homes including 125 at affordable rent and 84 available for shared ownership.

Room for a neighbourhood centre and flexible commercial units will be included in the design with the whole development expected to be completed by Spring 2022.

Sir Robin said: “The local community is at the heart of all regeneration projects in the borough and I am committed to ensuring residents benefit, whether it is through securing homes they can afford to live in, priority for jobs and new community and public spaces.

Not everyone was ready to praise the decision, however, with Custom House councillor Rokhsana Fiaz singularly voting against the plans.

A total of 12 objectors were given the chance to formally speak at the meeting and each of them called for the council to reject the proposal on the grounds that it offered a “pitiful” amount of “so-called” affordable housing.

Speaking after the decision, objector and Green Party member Frankie-Rose Taylor, of Green Street, said: “I think it’s a shame that people elected to represent their communities put profit before their residents.”

Dr Paul Watts, who spoke in objection to the plans, said: “It strikes me as a somewhat strange decision for a borough with such extensive and extreme housing needs to pass a development plan which has got next to no social housing in it when clearly that’s the great need in this borough.”

Focus E15 campaigner Hannah Caller added: “The figure of 25pc is not enough. It is doing nothing to relive the housing pressure for those people who are in need of homes and there won’t be enough affordable homes for people coming into the borough.”

The Mayor of London will give final approval before the development can go ahead.

Currently there are more than 17,000 council homes and more than 16,000 housing association homes to rent in Newham, which has a population of more than 300,000.

• What do you think of the decision? Send your letters to letters@newhamrecorder.co.uk

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