ADD2259 Disposal of Branch Road site

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Code: 
ADD2259
Date signed: 
04 September 2018
Decision by: 
Neil Hook, Head of Area (North East), Housing and Land

Executive summary

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.

Decision

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

Introduction and background

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.

Objectives and expected outcomes

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.

Equality comments

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.

Other considerations

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.

Financial comments

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.

Activity table

Activity

Timeline

Appoint valuer

August 2018

Mayoral decision

September 2018

Disposal

October 2018


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