Every three and two bed affordable home stripped from Sheerwater development site to cover cost of work

Bankrupt Woking Council is to sell off affordable homes to stay afloat amid it’s financial crisis.
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Councillors voted to strip 39 affordable homes from its Sheerwater regeneration project and sell them on the open market in an effort to keep its flagship housing project financially viable, a Tuesday, February 20 meeting heard.

The change, which has been described as a “big casualty” in the “financial mess” means there will now be 68 afford homes in the block, down from 107.

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The decision means putting every three bed, two bed, and non specialist one-bed home on the market. It led to criticisms that the borough’s “best chance” to alleviate the housing shortage would be lost and make it harder to insist private developers include affordable housing as part of their own larger bids.

Sheerwater Playground (Image Chris Caulfield)Sheerwater Playground (Image Chris Caulfield)
Sheerwater Playground (Image Chris Caulfield)

The homes are being offered to the private sector d to help Thameswey complete the sites already under construction.

Cllr Tahir Aziz (LAB; Canalside) said: “This is another big casualty of this financial mess we have.

“The council secured some money to complete the phases but that came with a heavy cost where we have to sacrifice these affordable units.”

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He added: “It’s sad, it’s another set back we are having in Sheerwater.”

View Across Central Square at Sheerwater Estate regeneration. Credit Broadway Malyan.View Across Central Square at Sheerwater Estate regeneration. Credit Broadway Malyan.
View Across Central Square at Sheerwater Estate regeneration. Credit Broadway Malyan.

Applicant Thameswey is a private company created by the council to handle Woking’’s regeneration projects – which have been a major contributing factor to the council going effectively bankrupt with debts approaching £2.6 billion.

Last year, when the council went bust, it was no longer able to fund any further development in Sheerwater and agreed to find private developers or housing associations to complete the remaining phases.

The meeting heard the Sheerwater regeneration programme has been built over a number of phases, and many of the affordable housing frontloaded to help rehome those displaced at the start of the project.

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Cllr Stephen Oades (LD Goldsworth Park) said: “In virtually every meeting i’ve sat in, it has been complained that we didn’t have enough affordable housing in Woking – and various developers have employed various rouses from communal living for example to avoid building affordable houses .

Aerial view of Sheerwater Estate regeneration. Credit Broadway Malyan.Aerial view of Sheerwater Estate regeneration. Credit Broadway Malyan.
Aerial view of Sheerwater Estate regeneration. Credit Broadway Malyan.

“I do find it quite worrying that one where we can control, at 100 per cent, we are deciding to get rid of 39 affordable homes and it’s the larger 39 affordable homes.

“So what’s really needed is multiple bedroom affordable homes when in fact all of those are being struck off here.

“I’m not happy about this at all and I don’t think that I can support it.”

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Cllr Daryl Jordan (IND Byfleet and West Byfleet) told the meeting the borough lacked any affordable housing and was giving away green belt to developers who then fail to supply affordable housing. He said: “I think that this was our best chance to supply it” and that the borough was in “desperate need of three or four bed houses”.

Sheerwater Regeneration Masterplan exhibition. Credit LDR.Sheerwater Regeneration Masterplan exhibition. Credit LDR.
Sheerwater Regeneration Masterplan exhibition. Credit LDR.

The affordable homes will be taken out of Sheerwater’s “red” phase, opposite Asda and side on to Dartmouth Avenue. It features retail space on the ground floor with apartments above.

It was approved by five votes to four with those in favour arguing the project had already delivered large numbers of affordable housing and that it was difficult to reject the proposal on planning grounds.

Further affordable housing would be made available when the boarded up homes are refurbished. There also remains the potential for new developments in the area to contain elements of affordable housing.

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