Developer to pay council £462k instead of providing affordable homes on kennels site

Ockendon Kennels, North Ockendon

Havering Council turned down the offer of five affordable homes on the Ockendon Kennels site. - Credit: Google Earth

A developer building 14 homes in North Ockendon no longer has to make any affordable after it failed to find anyone who wanted them.

All 24 housing providers approached, including Havering Council, turned down the offer of five homes - two shared ownership and three social/affordable rent - citing the remote location and the anticipated maintenance costs.

Marvin Developments has been given permission by the planning committee to scrap plans to make any of the 14 homes affordable and pay the council more than £460,000 instead.

The site was previously home to the Ockendon Kennels, until the refuge for retired greyhounds was abruptly evicted by the then-owner of the building in 2012.

Since then, three applications to build homes on the site have been refused. Two were unsuccessfully appealed, before the current plans were approved in 2018.

At the meeting on February 11, Cllr David Durant (Independent Residents’ Group) repeatedly asked why Havering Council had not wanted to purchase the homes.

He said: “The council should have an interest in that site. For social mix purposes and for the council’s own policy, I want to understand why we have not tried to obtain those units.

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“I appreciate that, if the council gets nearly £500,000, that’s a significant sum, but I would like to know why the council turned this down.”

Cllr Paul McGeary (Lab, Gooshays) agreed, adding: “Given our desperate need for new council houses and the size of our waiting list, why are we not taking up homes when they are available?”

Council officer Adele Hughes confirmed she did have a response from Havering Council, sent by a “member of staff in the regeneration department”, but could not give more details.

She told the committee: “I do not have further information, apart from saying they would not be interested in that particular site.”

She added the figure of £462,280 to replace the homes was arrived at after “detailed discussion for a considerable period” and was the most the council could get, according to “independent advice”.

Cllr Durant moved a motion, seconded by Cllr McGeary, to defer the decision until the committee could be provided with a better explanation for the council refusing the units.

This did not pass, having been voted for only by himself, Cllr McGeary and Cllr John Tyler (Upminster and Cranham Residents Group) and voted against by the remaining five members.

Allowing Marvin to pay the sum instead of providing affordable homes on-site was approved by the majority of councillors in the committee.

It was voted against only by Cllr Durant, Cllr McGeary and Cllr Stephanie Nunn (Residents’ Group).