IDS questions L&Q's status as social housing providers
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Development
Businessmen biting at L&Q's ankles in £16m Walthamstow Stadium bid
Iain Duncan Smith has questioned London and Quadrant's (L&Q) status as social housing providers in the row over the future of Walthamstow Stadium.
The secretary of state for work and pensions is angered that the housing association is refusing to meet a pair of businessmen who are interested in making a bid for the site and who would restore greyhound racing and provide affordable homes.
L&Q - who purchased the site four years ago - has caused controversy over its own plans for the site, which include 294 homes, but none for social rent.
Instead, it says it will provide 24 homes for 'Affordable Rent' - the Government's new social housing tenure - where lets are charged at up to 80% of the market rate.
IDS's Government has given housing associations the freedom to set higher rents to replace the substantial cut in the capital grant it gives them to build cheaper homes.
The MP told the Waltham Forest Guardian: "L&Q is in a shambles. They must recognise they have got this very badly wrong. They absolutely must meet, if they don't then I would have to go back to the secretary of state to question their right and status as social housing providers."
He has now told L&Q that he will contact communities secretary Eric Pickles to question its status as a provider of social housing, if the organisation refuses to meet the businessmen.
Businessman Bob Morton has teamed up with Walthamstow property developer Frank Taylor in a £16 million joint bid for the site.
The pair insist that they will build a dog track alongside new affordable housing should they convince L&Q to part with the site.
But the housing association has said that it has no plans to sell.
L&Q paid £18 million for the site around four years ago and hopes to redevelop it into 294 new homes, pending final approval from Mayor Boris Johnson after the Olympics.
However, the plans have been dogged by complaints from locals and MPs Iain Duncan Smith and Stella Creasy, who put aside their political differences to criticise L&Q's decision not to include any homes for social rent in the project.
Football manager and dog lover Harry Redknapp is also up in arms about L&Q's plans, and is supportive of a new race track. He said: "As an owner of many greyhounds it would be fantastic should Walthamstow reopen as a greyhound track. It would receive my full support not just on the opening night, but many other race nights."
In response to the buyout rumours, an L&Q spokesperson said: “We have no plans to sell the Walthamstow Stadium site and remain committed to developing our plans, which following approval by the London Borough of Waltham Forest’s planning committee, are due to be considered by the Greater London Authority.
“Our proposals for Walthamstow Stadium, which are the end product of many months of consultation with local people and statutory consultees, offer a mix of 50 houses and 244 apartments providing high quality and much needed homes for people on a range of incomes. There would be 24 homes available for Affordable Rent, all of which would be four bedroom houses, and 36 homes available for shared home ownership.
“The proposal would bring £50m worth of investment into the borough, as well as over £4m in section 106 contributions which would be used to improve local leisure, health and transport facilities. It would preserve the heritage of this iconic and historic site for the long term. In addition our plans would create new opportunities, including up to 250 jobs and additional provision for local apprenticeships.”