Controversial Millwall development scheme loses £20m grant

New Bermondsey housing scheme in Lewisham. Pic: Renewal

The controversial Lewisham Council-backed development scheme around Millwall FC’s stadium is facing an unexpected £20million funding gap.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has withdrawn a £20m Housing Zone grant for the New Bermondsey regeneration scheme around the stadium, which has been opposed by some local residents and traders.  The funding has to be found from another source in order for the scheme to go ahead.

According to GLA, the funding was withdrawn due to a difficulty in reaching an agreement with Renewal, the developer working on the scheme and Lewisham Council by the deadline, which was set for January 31.

The delay is said to have been largely caused by  the inquiry into the issue of Compulsory Purchase Orders by Lewisham Council designed to allow the scheme to go ahead; the investigation cleared the council and Renewal of any wrongdoing.

The New Bermondsey scheme is set to create around 2,400 homes, on a 30-acre site around Millwall FC’s stadium, known as The Den. According to Renewal, the development is set to create around 200,000 construction jobs for Lewisham.

One of the biggest parts of the scheme is a new station on the Overground line between Surrey Quays and Queens Road Peckham stations.

Jordana Malik, a director at Renewal, said: “The development was due to benefit from Housing Zone funding for the new Overground station which, as well as accelerating the delivery of the station, would have released more money from Renewal to build more affordable homes. However, the GLA’s 31 January 2018 deadline was missed due to the independent inquiry into New Bermondsey, which delayed the scheme.”

“Now that the inquiry has concluded and has found that there was no wrongdoing on either the part of Renewal or Lewisham Council and that Renewal is the only party in a position to be able to deliver the scheme, we will continue to work with the GLA as part of our Housing Zone status to explore alternative sources for infrastructure funding.”

Aerial view of New Bermondsey housing scheme. Pic: Renewal

Housing Zone grants were put up by former London Mayor Boris Johnson, totalling £400m across London to be used by developers, housing associations and public/private partnerships for homebuilding.

Planning permission was granted for the New Bermondsey regeneration scheme in 2012, which was formerly called Surrey Canal. The scheme was renamed as New Bermondsey in February 2015, the same month the GLA designated the Housing Zone grant to the scheme.

A spokesperson for Millwall FC said: “The news that the GLA’s £20 million funding package for New Bermondsey has been timed out, comes as no surprise. For six years, nothing has been built and no development is imminent. Millwall Football Club, like the majority of Lewisham residents, would like to see the New Bermondsey site developed for the benefit of this community.”

“It is time for a new beginning. The Council can put the controversies behind them and open up the opportunity for a new plan to be put forward for the successful delivery of a regeneration project in the borough with Millwall Football Club and its thriving Community Scheme truly at the heart of it.”

A spokesperson for Lewisham Council said, “We welcome the GLA’s new approach which will target investment in genuinely affordable homes. We will work with the Mayor of London to get new housing funding spent in Lewisham to support a range of schemes. To tackle the housing crisis we are building 500 new council homes and 2000 new affordable homes in Lewisham.”

The scheme also includes improvements for transportation, a £40m state-of-the-art sports complex called Energize, new cycling and pedestrian routes, a faith and community centre, a hotel, GP facilities and a revitalised park.

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