Questioning from Labour Councillors has revealed that an eye-watering £29 million has been spent on the Ebury Bridge Estate regeneration scheme before a brick has even been laid. Residents in the Ebury Bridge Estate in Pimlico have been waiting over 3 years for better housing after voting in favour of renewal plans in 2013 that would replace aging buildings, and provide 101 additional much needed homes.
However plans are many years behind schedule and it now appears over £29 million has been spent and a further £14.8 million will be spent (totalling £43.8 million) before work will even begin. The majority of the money has been spent on purchasing properties on the estate, but other costs include over £700,000 on Architects’ fees and Sitex security doors.
Councillor Jason Williams, Labour Churchill Ward Councillor said:
“Residents will be rightly concerned that so much money has been spent yet there is still a lack of clarity as to the final plans for the estate. There is an urgent need for the Council to outline their proposals and get on with providing the homes residents were promised over 4 years ago.”
Councillor Tim Roca, Labour Housing spokesperson said:
“This is a staggering sum of money to be spent with nothing show for it – not even a final plan. In the meantime it raises even more questions about the bungled Council regeneration programme. The Council need to explain why at least some of the properties purchased have not been used for temporary accommodation, instead of sending families to outer boroughs where they may have no local connection. They also need to come clean about how much rent and council tax has been lost since the properties were vacated. What is clear is that the Council’s farcical record on housing continues.”
Residents voted in favour of the renewal plans in a week-long ballot in May 2013. The Council said in 2013: “The renewal plans for Ebury Bridge will provide high quality new homes and significant improvements to existing homes along with vastly improved public spaces, which will enhance the character and value of the area. In addition the plans will provide residents with improvements to the energy efficiency of their homes, improved community facilities and provide future job opportunities.”
The key elements of the plans are:
- Eight blocks to be demolished and replaced with a series of new buildings ranging from 8-14 storeys with 4 storey breaks at key points to provide light and variety
- Five blocks to be retained and improved
- 101 additional homes created overall
- New homes and estate improvements to the highest environmental standards
- New central park with open lawns and play area and better connections with the surrounding area
- New enlarged community facility at street level
- New underground car park
But now, over 3 years later the Council has admitted that “there had been a muted response when soft market testing the planning consented scheme in the latter half of 2015 which did not generate sufficient interest from investment developers and traditional contractors. Complex delivery phasing, block/unit layouts requiring further value engineering and the costs and complexity of the refurbishment element are the main risks for developers/contractors.”
The Council say that officers are currently refining the existing consented scheme but a revised scheme is not yet finalised.