May 2020 Update
Edith Summerskill House and Watermeadow Court
Two major housing redevelopments in Fulham that were originally planned in 2013 have been beset by more delays and rising costs.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council and Stanhope Plc’s plans to redevelop Watermeadow Court and Edith Summerskill House on the Clement Attlee estate, under a joint venture, have both been pushed back once again.During a cabinet meeting on Monday (May 11) that was held over Zoom, it was announced that Stanhope had withdrawn from redeveloping Watermeadow House in Sands End.
The Edith Summerskill scheme has been sent back to the drawing board after a planning application to build a 20-storey tower was quashed at a court appeal in October 2019.
It means the Labour-run council will have free reign to revise the plans at both sites. But this could entail millions in extra costs, and further delay the completion of both schemes.
Terminating Stanhope’s role in redeveloping Watermeadow Court will cost the council £3.49 million, though it said this had been negotiated down from £5 million.
Watermeadow Court – formerly a block of 80 social-rent and leasehold flats, was emptied in 2013 while the Conservatives ran the council. It was demolished in November 2019 and was due to be replaced by a new block of 218 homes, though with only 36 at “affordable” and “social” rents.
Monday’s cabinet meeting confirmed that a further £526,000 had been budgeted for the Watermeadow Court site. This will pay for 12 months of 24/7 security, clearing fly-tipped waste and pigeon excrement, and legal fees.
This comes after an announcement in June 2018, that an additional £563,000 was needed for security and maintenance costs at Watermeadow.
Despite the years of waiting, council leader Stephen Cowan said on Monday that the change of circumstances will allow the council to build more “genuinely affordable housing”. He said Watermeadow Court was “a dreadful scheme when we inherited it” from the Conservative administration. Councillor Andrew Jones, cabinet member for the economy, said: “This is good news… this will enable us to significantly increase the proportion of genuinely affordable housing across the sites.”
Meanwhile, Edith Summerskill House comprised 68 social-rent flats until it was demolished in late 2017. It was due to be rebuilt as a 20-storey building with 133 new flats, all as either social or “intermediate” housing. But the council now plans to submit a new planning application.
A council report on the Edith Summerskill scheme said: “In the event that a new planning permission is granted the site will be transferred to Peabody Housing Trust [a housing association] and is expected to deliver 133 affordable homes.”The report also explained that Stanhope backed out of the Watermeadow Court scheme “due to a range of factors including market conditions, build cost inflation, suppressed sales values and increased CIL due to the delay in issuing planning permission”.
Watermeadow Court has now been demolished for which consent has been granted . However the new scheme 2017/01841/FUL has still not been consented.
The buildings were standing empty sufficiently long ( around 9 years x 80 flats = 720 rental years ) to have been included in a book published in 2019 called ‘ Derelict London’ . Not a great advert for Fulham or 1980’s construction !
November 2019 update
Watermeadow Court has been demolished and a hoarding now surrounds the site .
However planning permission has still not been granted for the scheme originally proposed in 2013 . The site is linked to the replacement block proposed for Edith Summerskill House , for which a scheme is still not consented .
The delays have lost the potential for an additional 351 flats, both affordable and open market flats over both sites for over 7 years . See the Council’s update below
March 2018 update
No decision has yet been made as yet on these two applications that are now being linked through the transfer of the affordable element of housing to the Edith Summerskill House
Edith Summerskill House ( 2017/01849) – demolition of existing building and rebuilding as affordable housing.
Watermeadow Court (2013/02623 CACHF)- demolition of the existing buildings and rebuilding as private accommodation . Permission to demolish has now lapsed
2017/01219/FR3 -permission for a temporary 2.4m height hoarding to be installed after demolition. Demolition has not taken place yet a hoarding is. The hoarding can only stay in place for 24 months – it has been up for around 12 months so far.
Fulham Society pondered the possible reasons for the strangely bricked up buildings at Watermeadow Court back in 2012.
Perplexed by the loss of so much affordable housing , admittedly in poor condition, Fulham Society wrote to local councillors and the planning department.
Applications to demolish the site emerged in 2013 when it became apparent that Hammersmith and Fulham Council had formed a joint venture company with Stanhope called HFS Developments to provide over 600 homes on Council owned land across the Borough over 15 years
As a result of the administration change in 2014 it was decided to over turn the previous scheme and instead tie it in with redevelopment of one of the blocks on the Clem Atlee Estate to achieve ‘a higher number of affordable homes’. The new proposals were revealed to local residents and Fulham Society in November 2016.
The new proposal for Edith Summerskill House is to provide a 22 storey, tower accommodating 133 ‘genuinely affordable new homes ‘ (as described on the Hammersmith and Fulham Council web site ), 27 of which will be ‘shared ownership’ tenure , the remainder will be affordable rent.
To subsidize the provision of ‘genuinely affordable new homes’ at Edith Summerskill House, the Watermeadow site will accommodate 190 new homes but for open market sale – ‘first refusal’ will be given of course to locals who live or work in the Borough ( again as described in the Hammersmith and Fulham web site)
In 2014 Andy Slaughter ,MP for Hammersmith described the joint venture as ‘the clearest example yet of social engineering’ a view not everyone will share but it is a fact that there will be a net loss to the Borough of 42 genuinely affordable rented homes once the schemes are complete.
A quirk of planning policy requires social housing to have higher space standards than required for homes for open market sale. The two schemes seem to reflect this anomaly in the quality of design so far with an architecturally striking tower at Edith Summerskill House, complementing Fulham’s sky line and at Watermeadow an unremarkable cluster of over sized blocks surrounded by unusable open space.
The Council’s joint venture partner , Stanhope has a solid track record of large London developments .Their joint venture development at BBC TV Centre, started in 2012 has just launched the sale of new homes ; within a similar time frame they must be wrestling with the lack of progress in Fulham. At the time of writing demolition has still not started at the Watermeadow site as planned although demolition in progress signs have been up for around 6 months . We are some years off seeing finished homes on either site . There is no doubt that redeveloping these two sites is complicated and the wish to provide better quality homes should be applauded but Councils never did make very effective landlords , perhaps we should add developers to the list as well.