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Wrecking ball hangs over £3m affordable housing scheme

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CONFUSION surrounds the development of "much needed" affordable housing, as demolition signs have gone up after a deal with contractors fell through.

Wandle Housing Association is in charge of building the 34 affordable homes in 447 Brighton Road between South Croydon and Purley. Despite work starting in 2010 and an estimated completion time of 40 weeks, the development is still nowhere near finished and has already cost £3 million.

The delay has prompted critics to compare the site to the IYLO tower – the abandoned development in central Croydon – and demand an investigation.

"Building work on the site has been delayed but is now expected to be completed in summer 2014," said a Wandle spokesman.

The housing association denied the development was being demolished, despite the signs put up on the hoardings.

Instead, they claimed the building would be "stripped back" in order "to enable a full assessment to take place" and "ensure both safety and the quality of the development".

The spokesman said Wandle could not know how much over budget the block would be until the assessment had been made.

The association's head of asset investment, Gary Bellenger, admitted the development had run into "significant issues" which had "delayed the scheme" but declined to go into details because it was "commercially sensitive".

According to one of the site's workmen, the building was originally contracted to GD City Holdings but is now being taken over by Mansell.

In county court records, GD City Holdings was still registered on August 23 as owing £2,449 to a company.

A Wandle spokesman later admitted that the contractor has now gone bust.

The housing association said it was given a £4.3 million grant by the Greater London Authority but declined to say how much GD City Holdings had been paid or how much Mansell had been hired for, because of "legal and commercial reasons".

Labour's shadow cabinet member for housing, Alison Butler, said something had gone "drastically wrong" and called for an investigation into the matter.

"These are much-needed apartments which people are desperate for in Croydon – developed with public money," she said.

"There is no need in this circumstance for secrecy and 'commercial sensitivity' is often used as an excuse for being untransparent."

In the planning application submitted in 2008 – refused in 2009 and then granted on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate – the site was meant to be 50 per cent affordable.

Around 35 per cent of this would be socially rented and the other 15 would be intermediate – provided through a Section 106 attached to the development.

The scheme is also contracted to pay the council £15,000 for an off-site public space, £28,000 to sustainable transport and £680 towards libraries.

Wrecking ball hangs over £3m affordable housing scheme


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