ADD2259 Disposal of Branch Road site
The GLA owns a parcel of land on Branch Road in Tower Hamlets E14. There are significant constraints to the site including the Limehouse Link running beneath, the Rotherhithe approach immediately to the north and the Cycle superhighway 3 running across the middle. In light of these constraints and the relatively small size of the site (0.21ha), previous attempts to procure a development partner have failed. Following negotiations, a direct offer has been made by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH) to purchase the site. This decision form seeks approval to appoint a valuer to confirm that disposal at the offer price would meet best consideration requirements. If and when confirmed, a further Mayoral Decision will then be sought to dispose of the site.
That the Head of Area (North East) approves:
Expenditure of up to £30,000 on the services of a RICS registered valuer to undertake a Red Book valuation of the site and other related work to confirm that the offer received meets best consideration requirements.
Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice
The 0.21ha site is located in London Docklands, within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH). It is situated to the south of Limehouse DLR station and forms a triangle of land between the Rotherhithe Tunnel Approach, Horseferry Road and Branch Road. A red line boundary plan of the site is included at Appendix 1.
The site is an informal grassed area traversed by a footpath and Cycle Superhighway 3 and is within an area that is largely residential in character. Access roads (Branch Road and Horseferry Road) are quiet however the Rotherhithe Tunnel Approach Road to the north is noisy and polluted and is a constraint to development. The Limehouse Link runs beneath the site and due to necessarily strict controls imposed by TFL with regard to piling or other earthworks, the depth of foundation permissible above the tunnel is limited.
As a result of a previous failed procurement, alternative options were considered, including direct disposal of the land.
An informal offer was received on 31 July 2018 from a public sector body.
Given previous valuations and the difficult in progressing this site it is believed that this is a good offer that meets best consideration requirements and is the most effective way to bring forward affordable housing on the site.
Approval is therefore sought to appoint a valuer to undertake the necessary work to appraise the offer from LBTH and ensure it meets best consideration requirements.
The valuer will be appointed via a three quote tender through the TFL procurement framework.
Should the offer be acceptable, a further Mayoral Decision will then be sought to dispose of the site.
Disposal of a constrained site for a sale price that meets the GLA’s obligations on securing Best Consideration and facilitates the delivery of additional affordable housing units will contribute to the Mayors commitment to meeting the challenges of economic and population growth and delivering genuinely affordable homes for Londoners.
The GLA’s Public Sector Equality Duty has been considered in relation to this recommendation and no specific issues have been identified as a result. Positive contributions to equality have been considered through the Accessible London SPG which requires all new housing to be built to ‘The Lifetime Homes’ standard and for ten per cent of new housing to be wheelchair accessible, or easily adaptable for residents who are wheelchair users.
The allocation of affordable housing units will be administered by LBTH in line with their allocations scheme which includes an equalities statement confirming their commitment to eliminating discrimination.
a) Key risks and issues
Given the constraints outlined above and the difficulties experienced during previous attempts to dispose of the land, there is a significant risk that a viable proposal for the site might not be found. Given that an offer has been made by a party confident they can bring forward the site it is proposed that the land is disposed to them as a “special purchaser” to enable much needed housing to be delivered without further delay.
Were a requirement to undertake another full procurement exercise stipulated there is a high chance that the current offer may be withdrawn and any alternative options put forward could result in similar barriers to those previously encountered reoccurring.
b) Links to Mayoral strategies and corporate priorities
The provision of affordable units will help realise the Mayor’s objective for meeting the challenges of economic and population growth.
c) Impact assessments and consultations
Statutory consultation will be required through the planning process.
A previous options appraisal has confirmed that housing can be delivered on the site. The party who have made the direct offer will carry out the required studies and assessments as part of their due diligence when bringing this site forward.
This decision seeks approval for expenditure of up to £30,000 to purchase the services of a RICS registered valuer to undertake a Red Book valuation of the site to confirm that the informal offer price meets best consideration for the GLA.
The expenditure will be taken from the H&L Land & Property Portfolio budget and will be spent in 2018/19 financial year.
Section 30 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (as amended) (GLA Act) gives the Mayor a
general power to do anything which he considers will further one or more of the principal purposes
of the GLA as set out in section 30(2) which are:
i. Promoting economic development and wealth creation in Greater London;
ii. Promoting social development in Greater London; and
iii. Promoting the improvement of the environment in Greater London
and, in formulating the proposals in respect of which a decision is sought, officers confirm they
have complied with the GLA’s related statutory duties to:
• pay due regard to the principle that there should be equality of opportunity for all people;
• consider how the proposals will promote the improvement of health of persons in Greater London, promote the reduction of health inequalities between persons living in Greater London, contribute towards the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom and contribute towards the mitigation of or adaptation to climate change in the United Kingdom; and
• consult with appropriate bodies.
In exercising the power contained in section 30(1) of the GLA Act, the GLA must have regard to the matters set out in sections 30(3-5) and 33 of the GLA Act, and also the Public Sector Equality Duty in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.
The housing shortage in London disproportionately negatively affects people with certain protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, and therefore increasing the supply of housing and affordable housing will help to achieve positive impacts in line with the needs of those with such protected characteristics (as set out in Section2 above).