How has your work on the proposed development at the St Ann's Hospital site in Haringey helped to make this an exemplar of community-led development, and not just a business-as-usual, developer-led project?
Thank you for your question. Before I became Mayor, there was planning permission at the St Ann’s Hospital site for 470 homes, of which just 14% were going to be affordable. This would have been a shocking waste of this opportunity to use public land for public good.
That is why we took the chance to intervene and we have transformed the plans for this site. It will now deliver an estimated 800 homes with at least 50% affordable. That represents a six-fold increase in the total number of affordable homes.
We were able to achieve this by using my new London Land Fund to buy the site from the National Health Service (NHS) Trust. This gave the NHS Trust the funding it needed to invest in new clinical services and gave us the chance to work with the Council and the community to make a far better scheme. Thanks to our involvement, input from the Council and the work of the local community group, the St Ann’s Redevelopment Trust (StART), the scheme now includes at least 50% affordable housing, the majority of which will be for social rent, at least 50 community-led homes, making St Ann’s one of the largest community-led housing schemes in London, and new council homes alongside London Living Rent homes, for which NHS staff get first dibs.
Getting to this position has taken time and work not just from my team but also from the directors of StART, who have been working together under a memorandum of understanding signed last year . We expect to bring the formal process for selecting a development partner soon. The terms of this tender have been developed by my team with StART directors’ involvement and they will continue to play a central role for the community to play as this scheme progresses. The role of StART will be critical to delivering the community‑led homes and we hope there will be opportunities to go even further in providing more affordable housing once a partner is in place.
I have been determined to make sure St Ann’s is an exemplar of as many of my housing priorities as possible, which is why council homes, community-led homes and London Living Rent homes for NHS staff at the heart of our plans. Clearly, there will be practical and financial limits to what we can achieve and the final details will involve compromise on all sides, but I hope everyone will agree that the future of this site has now been transformed for the better.
Thank you, Mr Mayor. To clarify a couple of next steps, you said it is going out to tender to developers very soon on the terms that you have just stated: 800 homes with 50% affordable. Has StART, the community land trust that came up with this idea in the first place, agreed to those terms and the terms of their working going forward?
There have been regular meetings. They have been involved throughout. I cannot give you the answer in relation to the specific tender going out because that would be subject to discussion between the Housing team and StART. I am not sure if you are suggesting that they have not been involved in the process.
OK. I wanted to go through some of the details of the scheme as it stands from the plans in the context of the agreed vision for the site, which says:
“The scheme will be used in future as an example to others that such schemes can be financially viable and deliverable.”
On the proportion of genuinely affordable homes, you were talking about 50% there. StART’s plan and request was for a minimum of 65% and they want 100%. They made plans to do that. The number of community-led homes you said was 50 out of potentially 400 genuinely affordable homes. That is just 12% of the affordable homes.
In terms of being community-led and an exemplar scheme, it seems things have been watered down. The vision itself now says “community-focused” instead of “community-led”. Instead of StART being the community group to work with and heavily involved, it seems they are now part of a wider steering group that they get to sit on and, at the end of it, they get to bid for these 50 homes, this handful of community homes.
Is this really an exemplar? Is it not basically now a business-as-usual developer-led type of scheme?
Chair, I know there is a mayoral election coming up, but we have to be sensible about these things. This scheme began with 400 units of housing with 14% affordable under a dodgy definition. It has gone from 400 units of housing with 14% under a dodgy definition of affordable to 800 units of housing with 50% genuinely affordable ‑‑
Mr Mayor, do not interrupt me. You have made a great improvement in terms of numbers and the NHS-focused homes are a great thing, but in terms of it being an exemplar of community-led housing I am not sure we are there.
What kind of reaction are you expecting from people coming to see the exemplar scheme? They are just going to say, “I can see schemes like this all across London”. It is not the community-led housing that was in the original community vision, is it?
You know that community-led is about the way it is managed and about community control. It seems like this is going to be developer controlled. It seems to show a lack of imagination from your Housing and Land team.
Chair, the phrase that will be used on a Green leaflet coming to you soon is, “Business as usual”. It clearly is not business as usual if we have gone from 14% of 400 units that are not genuinely affordable to 50% of 800 genuinely affordable units. That clearly is not business as usual.
We are not going to use StART to make cheap points. We are going to work with them to improve the scheme. Because of their input, we have gone from a situation where this scheme was going to be sold as 14% under a dodgy definition of affordable housing but ‑‑
Can I just ask Members: within our procedures, if you want to make a comment, then just remind us. If you are going to ask questions to the Mayor, you cannot have it both ways. You have to give the Mayor the opportunity to answer.
That is not for you to determine. I would ask you to try to determine whether you are going to use this as a platform for commentary and speeches and you can use that in your time. I do not have a problem with that but let us know. However, when you ask a question to the Mayor, it is reasonable and respectful for you to give him time to answer.