Last week it was announced that the two thirds of the land on the St Ann’s Hospital site has been purchased by the GLA (Greater London Authority). This will be the first time that the Mayor of London’s new £250million Land Fund has been used. Community land trust StART Haringey have been working on a proposal for genuinely affordable housing on the site since 2015, and the huge amount of work they have done has played a key role in getting to this stage.
It is now guaranteed that at least 50% of the 800 homes proposed for the site will be at affordable rates. (In the original planning application, that was submitted by the NHS trust, only 470 homes were due to be built with just 14% of those at affordable rates so this is a vast improvement). The new designs for the development will draw from the architects plans (6A architects & Maccreanor Lavington) StART commissioned after consultation with the local community in 2016. The investment will allow the existing NHS facilities on the 11.24-hectare site to be redeveloped, including the construction of a new mental health inpatient building. Planning permission for the new health facilities was granted on 8 May.
In this groundbreaking deal, the GLA will be working closely with a community-led organisation for the first time. StART and the GLA will have regular meetings which will enable StART to be involved at all stages of the development, this will include being able to comment on the tender applications. The deal could help to open doors for other community-led organisations to follow suit and could potentially create a blueprint for affordable housing in the future.
In their regular meetings, the GLA and StART have agreed to work together to :
- Ensure the community can influence and shape the process at all stages of delivery
- Identify opportunities for the community to own, steward or manage some of the homes and the neighbourhood
- Ensure benefits of the scheme to the local area are protected in perpetuity
Marlene Barrett from StART said: ‘Residents in Haringey were appalled when the site was given planning permission for only 14% affordable homes. We welcome the Mayor’s decision to purchase the site and work with us. We hope our community can now realise its vision for a community-led development that delivers genuinely affordable homes of people in this area, as well as maintaining the site’s health legacy and green public space. With the potential to build up to 800 homes, the scale of this project is unprecedented and could redefine the way we think about housing in London.’
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: ‘I am determined to do everything with the powers and resources at my disposal to tackle the housing crisis head on, and crucially that means building more new and genuinely affordable homes for Londoners.
‘As Mayor, I’ve set out how City Hall will take a more active and direct approach to unlocking sites across the capital. Late last year I announced my plans for a new Land Fund to buy sites – and at St Ann’s we are showing what this can achieve. Not only will my intervention unlock this site, but it will also allow us nearly to double the number of homes, and crucially increase six-fold the number of affordable homes that had previously been given planning permission. I am pleased my investment will see the redevelopment of a new mental health facility and in due course we will recycle this fund to buy more sites so that we can build more affordable homes.
‘Despite the government still failing to give us the investment and powers we need to make a true step change in homebuilding in London, we are showing what can be done. It is an approach councils and other local authorities across the country may look to adopt to ensure they play a key role in fixing the housing crisis.’
StART are also keen to see that a health legacy is maintained within the plans. They want to make sure that the development promotes public health and is supportive of the patients at the neighbouring mental health facilities.
As well as this, StART feels that the biodiversity on the site is extremely important and wants to focus on local heritage by keeping and renovating some of the existing buildings on the site. StART hope that the housing on the site will be eco-friendly with the installation of green roofs and solar panels and they would like to retain the existing green space.
We caught up with Tony Wood, one of the directors at StART, for an update. Read our original interview with Tony: StART Haringey: the community led housing scheme for South Tottenham. Although the purchase of the land by the GLA is a great success for the community-led housing trust, Tony said that they are not going to stop there. He explained what the next steps are for StART.
Their initial aim to get the GLA to buy the land and guarantee that affordable housing will be a key use on the site has been met (which they are incredibly pleased about), and they are now working towards their goal of raising £50million in order to take the project further and enable the community to have ownership of at least part of the development. They are hoping that the GLA will look at alternative housing delivery options and potentially sell the land to a combination of different organisations and not just one.
StART are currently in the process of meeting with Haringey Council to see if they can encourage them to buy part of the site from the GLA. This is would help them meet the commitment in the Haringey Labour manifesto in which the council are aiming to build a minimum of 1000 council homes on council land by 2022.
There are also plans for StART to set up an advisory board, made up of key industry figures across areas including architecture and design, construction, sustainability and the environment, to create a lobbying group that can help them to continue with their mission.
In April, StART received sad news that one of their dedicated members, Jyothi Pillay, was fatally injured whilst on holiday in Canada. They are planning to plant a tree in the existing Peace Garden on the site in Jyothi’s memory.
Keep up to date with StART’s progress on their website.