Thursday, 25 October 2018

Branch Hill exhibition event

On 20th October, a number of residents attended the exhibition organised by the new owner/developer of the site, Almax Group. This event was held in parallel with the ongoing S106 and the Pre-Planning negotiations between the developer and the Council in order to gage the local opinion of the proposal generally and of the affordable housing contribution particularly. 
Sanya met Sean Phillips, Almax Managing Director and confirmed NW3CLT’s interest in affordable units on site. About 20 of NW3CLT members live in the immediate vicinity of Branch Hill site and they are particularly keen to see on-site affordable housing. Mr Phillips confirmed that in S106 negotiations, FV calculations are used as per un-revised NPPF methodology in order to determine the level/numbers of affordable housing contributions. These same guidelines were used by the developer of New End Nurses Homes, enabling him to prove his profit from the development was insufficient to make any affordable housing contributions. Since then, the Revised NPPF 2018 with much-improved FV calcs guidelines has been published but unfortunately, this is only coming in force next year. We are asking local Cllrs to find out more about the negotiations and especially FV calcs and what methodology is used. We will report as soon as we hear.

The exhibition showcased plans for 30-35 new homes. Opinion was canvassed about three possible ways of affordable housing contribution - 'off-site', 'on-site' and 'on-site contributions, e.g. BranchHill Estate’.  Unfortunately, no explanation was given about what constitutes affordable housing  and most attendees Sanya spoke to thought it was "....going to be very expensive for key workers and alike to be able to afford to buy it." They came with a pre-formed view that “….building affordable homes for sale in North London was a waste of time." They did not know that affordable housing could be rented at an affordable rent pegged to 45% of take home pay, or protected social rent or indeed shared ownership. Sadly no such information accompanied the exhibition. Unsurprisingly, a number of visitors, residents of the adjacent Branch Hill Estate opted for ‘Local off-site contribution, i.e Branch Hill Estate’. 
We  asked local Cllrs to question the results of the poll on affordable housing when/if it is made public. We will report on that too.