Last night, Havering Council’s Cabinet agreed to buy out the interest of its joint venture private sector partner, First Base Bridge Close Regeneration LLP, comprising First Base Limited and Savills Investment Management Limited.
The Council formed a joint venture in 2018 with First Base Limited and Savills Investment Management Limited specifically to take forward the regeneration of Bridge Close, Romford, in accordance with planning policy and the Council’s vision for Romford town centre.
The Council identified Bridge Close as an opportunity to regenerate what is currently considered to be an underutilised brownfield site and deliver a comprehensive development, including approximately 1,070 new high-quality homes for local people, of which at least of 30% would be much-needed affordable homes, new retail and commercial space, a primary school, a health facility as well as strengthened east-west connections by way of a new walkway and vital improvements to the public realm and the River Rom.
Due to the slowing down of the housing market, increased construction costs, design enhancements and inflation, it has not been possible to project a level of viability that would meet the requirements of the Council’s private sector partner. This has been further impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis, which has created additional economic uncertainty.
In order to protect the regeneration plans for Bridge Close, the Council has reached an agreement ‘in-principle’ to purchase the private sector partner’s interest in the Joint Venture. This will facilitate the Council’s long-held objective to regenerate Bridge Close in accordance with adopted and emerging planning policy such as the Local Plan.
Under the new arrangement, the Council will be in full control of the joint venture and will be considering a further report in the coming months regarding options for future funding and delivery arrangements. It will allow the Council to look at increasing the level of affordable housing for local people, beyond the current 30% allocation.
In the meantime, the Council will begin a programme of engagement with all owners and occupiers in Autumn 2020 with the intention of continuing property acquisition discussions previously undertaken by the joint venture.
The Council remains committed to continue working in partnership with all businesses and residents of Bridge Close, to minimise disruption, inconvenience and produce satisfactory outcomes for all.