Letter from local Housing Co-op re Sky Gardens

Dear Boris Johnson/Valerie Shawcross/Kate HoeyWe are writing about the planned development of tall buildings at Vauxhall.  In particular we are deeply concerned that the developers of the building known as Vauxhall Sky Gardens have applied to remove the ‘Affordable Housing’ provision. Planning permission was granted in September 2010 for 239 residential units, of which 31% would be classified as ‘Affordable’. We believe this is a very serious development, particularly at a time when the lack of affordable housing is a political issue in relation to the upcoming welfare cuts. We feel that granting such a request would be a dangerous precedent which would undermine Lambeth Council’s policy in relation to the Vauxhall plans. As there is no public consultation on this application and we felt that it was sufficiently important to draw to your attention.  We are, of course, also writing to our local Councillors.

This letter is on behalf of the members of Vine Housing Co-operative which, like Sky Gardens, is situated in Oval Ward. As members of a Co-operative we are committed to maintaining a diverse and balanced community, a principle which Lambeth Council supported in its Vauxhall Supplementary Planning Document of November 2012.

That Document noted the lack of affordable social housing in the area, and affirmed a policy of requiring 40% affordable housing in the new developments in order to create a ‘sustainable and mixed residential community’ (7.11). The 31% agreed for Sky Gardens was already short of that 40%.

The Lambeth Document echoed our own concern with the undesirability of a neighbourhood overly dominated by investor or buy-to-let properties. We endorse the Mayor’s statement that he will ‘emphatically resist any attempt to recreate a London where the rich and poor cannot live together’

If the affordable housing is lost these luxury apartments are likely to be purchased by internationally-based multi-millionaires who will only use them for a week or two each year.  Indeed the Evening Standard reported back in June 2012 that the first off-plan homes in part of the Nine Elms development were already being offered to overseas investors (14.6.2012). It is likely that these will become luxury second homes, inner London recreational lodgings, or company flats used for visiting business people who lack any commitment to the life of the area..

We are concerned that the creation of what is described as a ‘prestigious and high quality location’ may create a situation whereby rising costs lead to the current community being driven out, as is already happening in parts of central London.  It is essential to maintain low-cost housing, not run by private landlords who will be tempted to charge exorbitant rents, but by Housing Associations and the local Council.

We would like to hear your views on this and trust you will support Lambeth Council in its commitment to maintain a diverse and balanced community.

Yours sincerely

Vine Housing Co-operative

Vine Housing Co-operative is situated in the conservation area of Vauxhall Grove and Bonnington Square.  It is a fully mutual co-op which owns 50 dwellings of various sizes. It has 75 members who are all tenants.  The Co-op was established in 1984, and in the intervening 28 years has made a significant contribution to the enhancement of its immediate environment and to the life of the Vauxhall area.

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