The development will now provide 197 affordable homes (credit: Havering Council)
The flats are part of the redevelopment of Napier and New Plymouth House, part of the council’s 12 Estates joint venture with Wates Residential.
The new site was originally set to include 126 affordable homes and a further 71 homes for private sale.
But the council has now decided to buy those 71 homes.
Councillor Damian White, Leader of Havering Council said: “We know there is a high demand for decent affordable housing across the borough, with the Covid-19 pandemic likely to increase this further. The additional council homes on this development will help to deliver on our promise to create new communities with quality affordable housing where people are proud to call home.
“Through the 12 Estates project we want to double the amount of council rented accommodation and more than double the number of affordable homes for local people, including former residents on the estates, who will get the right to return to a brand new home.
“With demolition now complete and construction due to start on site in early autumn 2020, we are one step closer to providing the thousands of new and affordable homes that Havering needs.”
The flats being built are on land between New Road and Dunedin Road, which falls into the South Hornchurch ward.
Local councillor Graham Williamson, from the Independent Residents Group, said:
“Although Covid has come along and created more problems in terms of construction work and the housing market in general I do not believe those are the fundamental reasons for the change of plan for the building and marketing of Napier & New Plymouth House,” he said.
“My understanding is that Wates pulled out of the development because their financial advisors said they wouldn’t begin to turn a profit on the Napier & New Plymouth House for six years. At the same time they also made 300 people redundant, unrelated to Covid.
“Obviously the council were put in a predicament and they are taking over Wates part of the project. The problem is it will cost the council, already suffering from Covid related costs, over £20m to takeover.
“The whole reason for the Joint Ventures was to minimise each party’s exposure. While the council had ‘a pistol put to its head’ and had to act I fear that it is making us financially vulnerable to an unstable market, as it admits itself. We can only cross our fingers and hope it doesn’t turn sour.”
Fellow ward councillor, Michael Deon Burton, welcomed the news but warned it must be built to a high standard.
He said: “News there is to be an increase in the quantity of good quality housing in the South of Hornchurch is as welcome as this wonderfully sunny weather.
“However we must all be diligent in making sure quality housing is delivered. Many a local resident in the south of the borough is still reeling from the embarrassment that is the Low End Apartment debacle within the Orchard Village Estate development.
“When we promised our residents so much in the way of these great deeds let them not find again, these were only words.”
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