Havering Council’s rejection of five social housing units in Romford has been criticised by a local councillor, who warns it risks becoming a “private gated development for the wealthy”. 

Earlier this month, the Recorder reported how IPE North Street Ltd, represented by ROK Planning, had submitted a request to pay £693,936 in lieu of building five affordable homes on North Street

The homes were to be delivered as part of a larger development consisting of four commercial units and 66 homes on the former CPA Studios site. 

Following this paper’s report, Cllr David Taylor, a Conservative councillor for the St Edwards ward, wrote to the council to object to the application. 

In the process of doing so, he was told via an email seen by the Recorder: “However, despite efforts to get a Registered Social Landlord for the units on offer, no RSL has shown any interest to take up the units. The Housing Section of the council has also rejected to take up the units.” 

Romford Recorder: The development would involve the demolition of the existing buildings from 203 to 221 North Street, to be replaced with the new homes and shopsThe development would involve the demolition of the existing buildings from 203 to 221 North Street, to be replaced with the new homes and shops (Image: Google)

Cllr Taylor said the council’s decision to turn down the affordable homes failed to “compute”, especially given Havering’s current struggles with homelessness amid the cost-of-living crisis

"Havering is facing an increasing demand for social housing, with homelessness on the rise,” he said. 

“I cannot fathom why the council would refuse to take on new social homes, in favour of cash. The amount received will not secure homes on the open market and construction of new social homes is some time away.  

“Removing these social homes, from the development, will now lead to a private gated development for the wealthy. 

“If Romford is going to have new homes thrust upon it then we must ensure that there are homes for all.” 

In a recent report, an “insufficient supply of appropriate housing in the borough” was one of the major contributing factors listed for rising homelessness, alongside the cost-of-living crisis. 

Cllr Paul McGeary, cabinet member for housing, said the lack of homes is a "growing problem in the borough, and one that we are hopefully trying to address”. 

As well as the homes, the North Street application, green-lit in 2019, also includes plans to reimage the Grade-II listed Vine Cottage as a “multi-tenant commercial space, including a bespoke and unique small office to the rear of the listed building in the converted barn”. 

Havering Council was approached for comment. 

View the S106 variation application with reference P1357.22. View the original planning application with P1181.19.