Developers behind plans to build 31 flats around The Bird’s Nest pub in Deptford say they can only afford to include two flats for people on housing waiting lists.
Artworks Creekside wants to keep the facade of the much-loved pub on Deptford Church Street while rebuilding and extending the venue, and building the flats on either side. It has now submitted a planning application to Lewisham Council.
London planning guidance says that developments with ten homes or more should reserve just under 25 per cent of their homes for London Affordable Rent – about half market rents and available to people on housing waiting lists. Another 10 per cent should go to “intermediate” tenures, such as shared ownership or discounted sales.
This would mean the five-storey development should have seven or eight affordable-rent flats, and three for “intermediate” tenures.
But Artworks Creekside says the most it can provide is two flats for London Affordable Rent, with another flat for sale at a discount under the government’s new First Homes scheme, which is aimed at first-time buyers.
A viability assessment says that a 30 per cent discount would knock the price of the two-bedroom flat down to £404,000.
“On-site affordable housing provision would render the scheme unviable,” a statement included with the planning application says. “Notwithstanding this, the applicant has taken a commercial decision to provide affordable housing beyond the maximum viability of the scheme.”
The assessment claims the scheme would lose £1.6 million with the three “affordable” flats that are proposed, under an assumption that it would need to make 15 per cent profit on commercial parts of the scheme and 17.5 per cent on private homes.
Artworks Creekside says its key aim is to ensure “the future sustainability of the Bird’s Nest”, which it says has struggled in recent years. As well as an extension, a new beer garden would face out onto the Theatre Arm of Deptford Creek, where houseboats are moored.
While fears have been raised that the development will threaten the pub, the application contains an endorsement from the pub’s landlord, saying that keeping live music at the bar would be a priority. The developer says it has also worked with the houseboat owners.
The Bird’s Nest has sat isolated on the corner of Creekside for decades, but it will soon be joined by 56 homes at the nine-storey 1 Creekside, which is now being developed by Lewisham Council, with 22 homes for those in the borough’s waiting list and 34 for shared ownership.
Across Deptford Church Street, work is also well under way on new homes on the old Tidemill School site, which is being developed by Lewisham and the housing association Peabody.
When completed, it will offer 209 homes – half of which will be available to people on Lewisham’s waiting list, with the rest a mixture of private sale and shared ownership.
Full documents are on the Lewisham Council planning website, while a summary can be found in the design and access statement.
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