New ‘affordable’ homes in Bermondsey: Duke of Westminster’s property company resubmits plans for custard cream factory conversion

The Duke of Westminster’s family property company, Grosvenor, got a rap across the knuckles for ‘‘not being good enough” when it submitted plans for its first major London development outside Mayfair and Belgravia and Southwark council threw them out.

Now Grosvenor’s new £500 million masterplan for the former Peek Freans biscuit factory in Bermondsey has more and cheaper “affordable” housing and will be car free.

The original scheme was decisively rejected by the local authority in February when it said couples would need to earn around £30,000 each to afford the lower-cost flats on offer.

In May, however, Sadiq Khan used his powers as London Mayor to consider the scheme, saying it had “potential to make an important contribution to housing and affordable housing supply”.

The developer, best known for owning 100 acres of Mayfair and 200 acres of Belgravia, has increased the proportion of lower-cost housing from 27 per cent to 35 per cent and the average market rent discount from 27 per cent to 46 per cent.

Under the new plans 30 per cent of the affordable homes will be at social rent equivalent, with a typical discount of 70 per cent to open market levels. The rest will be at discounted market rent with an average discount of 39 per cent.

Simon Harding Roots, executive director, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, said: “Bringing about positive and lasting change for Bermondsey has always been our focus. However, our original planning application was not good enough. We acted in good faith but it didn’t meet the council’s expectations.

“Since then, we have worked hard to address the clear call from the community, council and Mayor to deliver more affordable housing whilst ensuring the project, and its many other benefits, can become a reality.”

The plans for the factory where Bourbons and custard creams were made for decades, now include 1,548 new homes, up from 1,342 in the original plans and include around 482 lower-cost homes.

However, the requirement for more affordable homes has meant an increase in height of between one and seven storeys for seven of the blocks in the scheme and a reduction in the amount of retail space in order to be profitable, according to Grosvenor.

Phase one of construction would include 359 rental homes, of which 35 per cent by habitable room would be affordable, as well as the delivery of a new 600-pupil secondary school and 8,155sq ft of employment space.

The new plans are now the subject of a consultation lasting until 28 October.

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