Three residents on the council housing waiting list have been the first to move in to brand new one-bedroom flats in Thornton Heath – the first to be completed for occupation by the council’s controversial housing developer Brick By Brick.
The homes were unveiled just before Christmas at Flora Court in Chipstead Avenue as part of a larger development providing 24 shared ownership homes.
But the celebration was short lived after it emerged Brick By Brick had been forced to suspend all sales of its shared ownership homes after it was discovered that banks and building societies would not provide mortgages under shared ownership schemes on its properties because the company was not a ‘registered provider’.
Brick By Brick responded: “In order to provide as many affordable financing options as possible for our customers, we are now expediting this registration process and the regulator’s guidance suggests that it will take three months.
“In the meantime, our experienced sales team are actively working with any affected prospective purchasers on a one-to-one basis to find an interim solution that works for them…”
Anyone buying a 25 per cent share in one of these shared ownership flats costing £315,000 will pay £78,750 and put down a five per cent deposit costing £3,688.
Brick By Brick was created by the council in 2015 to build over 2,000 good-quality homes on council land, including around half as affordable homes, with profits reinvested in the borough. To do this it has borrowed £200million from the council which it has to, repay in full, with interest, at the end of the development of each site.
In the case of the Chipstead Avenue the site was a care home and was sold to Brick by Brick for just £18,000. Brick By Brick disputes that it pays under the market value for land and says purchases include an ‘overage’ provision to the council which means that at the end of the development there is a recalculation which factors in all of the actual costs and revenues on the development which Brick By Brick then tops up any land payment to the council.Brick by Brick have 1,000 homes under development across Croydon and say they expect to be completing around 500 homes every year with half affordable homes.
In 2020 the company is looking to submit planning applications to create 600 new homes on sites including garages, car parks and green spaces causing more controversy.
In the last month calls have been made for a public inquiry in to the workings of Brick by Brick and at the last full council meeting Croydon Conservatives revealed they had written to the Secretary of State for housing communities and local government, Robert Jenrick to investigate what was described at the meeting by Councillor Lynne Hale as ‘mismanagement’ and ‘incompetence’.
She added: “It is causing great distress to thousands of residents who can’t understand why you give environmental promises in one breath and pass schemes to chop down trees and concrete over green lungs of our borough in the next.”
But cabinet lead for housing Cllr Alison Butler, hit back, accusing Cllr Hale of ‘exaggerations and untruths’ and said that Brick by Brick is on target, delivering homes to people on the waiting list and returning a profit for the council’s frontline services.
Adding: “There is a huge housing need we continue to have about 2,000 families in temporary accommodation and I am sure everyone agrees that’s simply not acceptable.”