The Bermondsey Spa regeneration began in 2002. The site comprised several council-owned buildings and also part of the Neckinger estate. The regeneration was separated into a number of different phases, the bulk of which (850 new homes across 9 sites) was developed by Hyde Housing Association, who were advised on the scheme by Savills.
Site D was developed by Hyde Housing and is split between two planning applications:
However, in the section 106 agreement for this application, the social rented units are described as ‘affordable rent’ - enabling rents of up to 80% market rent:
In Jan 2016, Hyde advertised a 3-bed ‘affordable’ unit in this development for rent at £1,849 per month.
The other part of site D was developed several years prior by Hyde Housing.
Planning application documents show that 138 homes were approved here, of which 38 should have been social rent.
However, the s106 agreement provides an accommodation schedule of which units should be social rent, but fails to provide a definition of social rent.
Sites E to U (Hyde Housing Association)
Outline permission for Sites E-U was granted under ref:04/AP/2190 at the Planning Committee meeting on 6th July 2004. But links to the Officer’s report for that application are classified as restricted access on the Council’s web portal.
Reserved matters relating to the outline permission were granted for Sites E-H and FS&U - under five different consents approved between 2004 and 2006; 06-AP-0323, 06-AP-0322, 06-AP-0374, 04-AP-0102 and 04-AP-2189.
3 Beds on these phases are now being marketed with ‘affordable’ rents of £1800 per month.
Mayor’s planning report for Sites E-U.
Council documents show that 3 blocks comprising 77 council homes were demolished on phases E-U, in order to make way for Hyde Housing’s development of 605 new homes, 202 of which are supposed to be social rented (ref:04/AP/0102) The demolished council blocks were 1-18 Giles House, 1-30 Carton House, 1-29 Darnay House.
SITE O (Bellway Homes)
03/AP/2385 157 homes of which 40 should be social rented.
Site C is the largest of the Bermondsey Spa regeneration sites. The masterplan for site C was put together by architects Glenn Howells and approved at the Council’s Executive meeting of 18 July 2006, but the masterplan itself is no longer in the public domain. All that remains available is this introduction and the Executive report recommending its approval.
This Council report confirms that the vast majority of it was in Council ownership, except for a 1930s factory in the middle of the site called Larnaca Works. This was demolished and paragraph 61 of the planning report for the Larnaca site planning application confirms that the Larnaca development was to provide 90 residential units with 35% affordable housing, comprising 87 affordable habitable rooms of which 61 habitable rooms would be social rented (17 units). However, the section 106 agreement describes these 17 units as ‘affordable rent’.
The GLA Affordable Housing outturn data shows Hexagon Housing Association as the the Larnaca Works site’s registered provider. The 17 units are listed at levels near social rents but were classified for funding purposes as affordable rent.
The Council’s planning portal shows that there is a long site history of amendments and variations to the Larnaca site, including breaches in planning control for not providing the shop frontages and shops they were supposed to and conversions from consented commercial and office space to residential.
Site C (Grange Yard)
Council papers show that next to Larnaca, site C also comprised a council office block (Mable Goldwyn House); a residential care centre for adults with learning disabilities (Gibson House); and a centre for learning disability services (Evelyn Coyle House).
Mable Goldwyn House being demolished
These were demolished and this site was sold to Linden Homes. The officer’s report for the planning application confirms that this site was to provide 167 residential units, of which 34 were to be social rent. There is no section 106 agreement published for this site on the Council’s portal and it is not known whether the 34 social rented units have been delivered.
The GLA dataset shows Family Mosaic with 10 units and 8 units and Leicester Housing with 9 units (all affordable rent) and in the latter case up to 52% market rent (£154 pw plus £20 service charge). We don’t know whether they relate to this site at this stage.
Land Registry documents show that the Council sold the site in Dec 2013 for a sum not disclosed. The site was then sold a year later on 18 November 2014 for £22m shortly after receiving planning permission on 14th Sep 2014 and just 8 days after the Council signed a deed of variation on 10 Nov 2014 to its Dec 2013 agreement.
Part of site C is also home to the old library on Spa road. The library was sold in 2009 to Kagyu Samye Dzong Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre.
Site C5 - Notting Hill
To the eastern side of Site C is Site C5 which is adjacent to the old Town Hall, and used to be the site of a (one-stop shop) council housing office.
Site C5 was also home to George Tingle House and Larnaca House, two council blocks cromprising 54 council homes.
The entirety of site C5 was sold to Notting Hill Housing Group, for the buildings to be demolished and replaced by a development comprising 205 new homes of which 44 were supposed to have been social rented.
Notting Hill’s ‘The Exchange’ development
However, we discovered that these 44 social rented units had been delivered at ‘affordable rents’ of up to 63% of market rent.
Land registry plan showing the extent of land sold to Notting Hill.
Bermondsey Town Hall
Adjacent to Notting Hill’s C5 site is Bermondsey Town Hall, which was sold off by Southwark’s Labour administration as part of the regeneration plans in 2012.
The old Town Hall was then split into 41 private apartments by developers Hollybrook, which have been sold at the prime end of the market. In 2014, the developers produced a marketing promo video showing a tour of the inside of the converted Town Hall:
The baseline figures (or lack of)
We made an FOI request to the Council in November 2015, asking how many of the 2000 new homes at Bermondsey Spa regeneration were being let at social rents. They responded by saying that they hadn’t monitored the scheme so they didn’t know. We later discovered that Southwark Council doesn’t monitor whether affordable housing is actually delivered in schemes approved by its planning committee or what type of tenures are delivered.