In early 2018, Lewisham Council selected Grainger (UK’s largest listed residential landlord) as their joint venture partner to deliver a major, new rental housing scheme in Besson Street. A planning application was submitted in November 2019 and was approved on 30 July 2020. The planning application can be accessed from the Lewisham Planning website: https://lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/planning using planning application reference number DC/19/114805.
Details of the scheme
The planning application provides for 324 new residential units, flexible retail and commercial floorspace, a Pharmacy, a GP surgery (to replace and expand capacity from the current Queens Road surgery) and new community space for the New Cross Gate Trust. Buildings range from 3 to 12 storeys, provision of disabled car parking, cycle parking and servicing facilities, landscaping, play structures and other associated works.
Key points to note include:
- Thirty-five percent of the new homes (approx 114 new homes) will be let at ‘London Living Rent’.
- These rates are calculated on a ward basis by the London Mayor. However, where the development is not in receipt of a GLA grant, rates are not mandated and have some flexibility to reflect particular local circumstances. The NXG Trust will raise with the JV partnership the extent to which this could be flexed to better represent the needs of New Cross residents.
- Rent increases will be aligned with inflation. This will help to ensure that local working families are able to afford to stay in the local area, and not get priced out of our neighbourhood by rapidly soaring rents.
- They will offer longer term (up to 5 year) tenancies, with the option to renew, to ensure that residents have stability and security of tenure.
- 50% of the rent from the homes will be circulated back into the local authority (which has experienced massive cuts from the current government since 2010), to support vital local authority services and to support the costs of building new social homes.
- In addition to the new homes, the partnership will provide a range of new community facilities for the New Cross Gate community. These include a new larger and more fit for purpose GP surgery to replace the current Queens’ Road surgery, together with a new Healthy Living Centre, new office space for the New Cross Gate Trust and outdoor health equipment throughout the site.
- The community facilities will be asset transferred to the New Cross Gate Trust to manage. Rental income from the GP surgery and pharmacy will enable the Trust to deliver a much wider range of health and employment focused activities and services for our local community.
- This will also provide long term sustainability for vital community services such as our employment support, IT skills training, and ESOL provision, as well as new health and wellbeing activities, including for example, physical activity, healthy cooking sessions, mental health support, group and social activities, informal learning opportunities and more.
- With increasing competition for funding via grants, this helps the Trust to develop a sustainable financial model, ensuring that these services are not lost from our local community.
The need for social housing: The New Cross Gate Trust recognises that there is a substantial and significant need for more social housing in the local area, and we continue to engage in discussions with the council, local planning consultations and regeneration schemes in the local area to emphasise the importance and need for social housing within our local community. However, we do recognise that this development offers a vital product for many local working families, many of whom would be ineligible for social housing, but are still desperately in need of high quality, affordable housing and security of tenure if they are to be able to stay in the local area (often difficult to find within the private rented sector).
Our involvement in the scheme: The New Cross Gate Trust does not own the land or have any decision making powers over the development, however, we do stand to benefit from the scheme through the lease of the GP surgery and community space. We will also be acting as critical voice for the local community, arguing for the Joint Venture Partnership to maximise the environmental opportunities. In particular, we will be looking for them to maximise green space, green roofs, tree planting and energy efficiency within the scheme, to provide a high quality public realm and excellent design and housing standards, and of course to uphold their commitments on affordability, together with a priority to house people already living within the local area. We are also seeking clarification of which other sites in Lewisham have been identified to provide the council’s aspiration of 1000 new council houses within Lewisham, to meet this critical need. Going forward, we will be supporting the consultation process, to ensure that our local community have every opportunity to feed in their views to the development, design and planning process for the scheme.
The GP surgery: Although this is a replacement of the existing Queen’s Road surgery, it represents a significant increase in space, capacity and services from the existing surgery. At the moment about 10,000 people are looked after in 7 clinical rooms, with two other rooms for administration work away from reception. The new centre will have capacity to look after 13,000 patients, from 15 clinical rooms with additional space for meetings, group work, telephone and administration work. This will make an enormous difference to the way staff can work, for flexible clinic times, and for stress reduction and increased efficiency. It will also enable new services to be placed in the building, accessible to people not just from Queens Road Surgery but those registered at other practices. The NHS 10 year Plan is clear that it is most efficient to offer some care at neighbourhood level, not just practice level, and funding has just been announced for additional staff in our North Lewisham neighbourhood. In the first year there will be a pharmacist to work in surgeries looking at management of long term conditions and helping with repeat prescribing, and also a social prescriber to help people find the best way of dealing with problems that don’t need medical input. In the next four years there will also be physiotherapists, physician’s assistants and paramedics, up to a total of about 22 extra full time staff in 5 years. All these staff need somewhere to physically work, and the new healthy living centre will be able to accommodate some of them. It will also have space for more doctors and nurses to work and train, so they can be recruited when both money and applicants to vacancies are available, to improve access and care. As an established training practice there is also a need to accommodate nurse trainees and medical students from the local nursing and medical schools on a regular basis.
Timescales: The planning application was submitted in November 2019, planning permission secured in July 2020. It was hoped that work will start on site in 2023, potentially completing the scheme in 2025. 2023 UPDATE: there have been delays, and the project timeline has also been impacted by Covid-19. As of January 2023, it is now hoped work may be able to commence in autumn 2023. There is no estimated completion date yet.
More about Grainger: Grainger is a leading professional landlord with around 9,000 rental homes currently in its portfolio. Established in Newcastle in 1912, Grainger has been recognised as the market leader in the emergence of a professional private rented sector in the UK. It has won numerous awards as a leading and responsible business and the company is investing over £850m over the next three years to create new rental homes across the country.
Keep in touch: We will continue to host updates as they occur on this page of the website, and to post any updates on Facebook and our regular newsletters. You can also contact Mel Shakespeare at NXG Trust, email – firstname.lastname@example.org