Row over council plans to build houses in Bexley green spaces
PUBLISHED: 14:53 02 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:53 02 July 2018
The row over council plans to concrete over green spaces across the borough to build houses rumbled on at a Tuesday meeting (June 26).
The Conservatives defended accusations that they were ‘selling the parks off’, and voted to transfer the sites to the council’s development company BexleyCo so that developments would be “sympathetic.”
Controversial plans to build houses on open spaces at Wilde Road in Northumberland Heath and Old Farm Park in Sidcup have led to public outcry from residents groups tasked with ‘saving’ the sites.
It comes following a planning application to build flats in Wilde Road that was deferred by councillors earlier this year at a packed planning meeting.
Labour councillor Wendy Perfect said: “My residents have been told the whole way through the planning process the sites are not being sold by the council but they are being transferred to BexleyCo for a fixed amount for the council to develop this site.”
The Northumberland Heath councillor pointed out that the report says: “In terms of the process for transferring sites to BexleyCo, they would take place on either a freehold or leasehold basis as appropriate, at an agreed market value, by means of a legal transfer, the consideration for which would be repaid through regular revenue payments.”
She went on: “This is clearly a financial transaction and in laymans terms, it’s a sale. Are you only suggesting selling the sites to hamper the residents chances of taking control of the sites through the government scheme to make them an asset for the community?”
BexleCo’s business plan includes developments at West Street in Erith, Nags Head Lane in Welling, the Walnut Tree Road depot in Erith, and the Felixstowe Road car park in Abbey Wood.
The sites have been earmarked for development to help the council raise cash, and to provide extra housing for the borough amidst the capital’s housing crisis and the council’s plans for growth.
Jane Richardson, the council’s assistant chief executive for growth, said: “I can confirm we will be potentially transferring sites – some sites or all sites – where a site is transferred to a wholly own company it must follow competition laws. It must be transferred at an open market value – but because of the nature of the transaction it’ll be valued independently as well.”
Community groups have the option of buying the sites themselves through the Asset of Community Value Scheme.
Save Wilde Road campaign group has said that open spaces were important and that the area was already at breaking point in terms of parking.
The decision was backed by the council’s top team to u-turn on a decision made in 2015 to market sites and to take the next steps to transfer the sites to the Council’s development company.
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