Labour Group Blasts Nine Elms Revamp as 'Huge Missed Opportunity'

Former council leader defends 'engine of Wandsworth's future prosperity'

Nine Elms Tube Station

The revamp of Nine Elms, with multi-million-pound luxury flats in massive tower blocks, has been slammed as a “huge missed opportunity” to build homes residents actually need.

Wandsworth Labour said developers’ interests will not be put ahead of locals after taking control of the authority for the first time in 44 years in May. Schemes like the Embassy Gardens - with a Sky Pool in the air between two buildings – were approved under the council’s old Conservative leadership but have long faced criticism from Labour councillors.

Council leader Simon Hogg said developers had been allowed to “build towers and expensive flats for overseas investors with nothing for local people” at a council meeting last Wednesday (19 October).

Labour councillor Paul White stated that only 15 per cent of the 16,000 homes built in Nine Elms are affordable. Councillor Hogg replied that Nine Elms revamp had left “so much” on the table.

He said the group thinks, “Nine Elms was a huge missed opportunity to provide the type of homes… that local families desperately need”.

He said Embassy Gardens alone had generated £40 million extra for the council as the authority decided to split profits with the developer at an end-of-scheme review. But he said the council did not do this for other huge projects in the area.

He said, “That one scheme generated £40 million extra for the council – so how much do you think we’ve left on the table because of our appalling attitude to property developers over the years and what has that meant?”

The Sky Pool In Nine Elms Is Suspended Between Two Tower Blocks
The Sky Pool In Nine Elms Is Suspended Between Two Tower Blocks

Referencing the Battersea Power Station development which was slashed from 15pc to 9pc affordable housing in 2017, he explained why every affordable home built is important.

He said a local family-of-four sleeping in one room were 247th on the waiting list for a two-bed flat, before adding, “We don’t say move out the borough, we say we will build those affordable homes and if you ask me why I’m so bothered about 250 affordable homes at Battersea Power Station, it’s that family who’s 247th on the housing queue.”

But Conservative councillors slammed the Labour administration for not attending the opening of Battersea Power Station. Labour councillors did not go to the historic opening after years of raising concerns about its level of social housing.

Former Conservative council leader Ravi Govindia said the power station had been revamped after four decades of decay to create thousands of jobs and a new hub for South West London.

He said, “You need to repair your relationship with this area which is the engine of Wandsworth’s future prosperity. For many years, Wandsworth suffered a net loss of spending… with the power station this will reverse that decline and in fact, this will become once again a generator of the borough.”

The group also raised concerns about the council’s new housing plans, which include building 50pc affordable housing on all new developments and building more council homes.

Conservative councillor Kim Caddy said, “Wandsworth Conservatives have a long track record of financial strength and a business-like approach to running the council which was focussed on best value for taxpayers. And I really don’t believe that residents want to sacrifice this.”

Charlotte Lilywhite - Local Democracy Reporter

October 25, 2022