Editor’s comment: Developers’s objection to project is odd

A digital impression of the proposed council-run leisure centre. Photo by HACKNEY COUNCIL.

A digital impression of the proposed council-run leisure centre. Photo by HACKNEY COUNCIL. - Credit: Archant

There’s something uneasy about a private developer objecting to a council building site next door on the basis it doesn’t provide enough affordable housing.

Anthology is on fairly safe ground here – 80 affordable homes out of 480 on the Britannia site isn’t a fantastic figure compared with 50 per cent on the Colville, even though Hackney will get a new leisure centre and a new school (one that will be out of council control due to its academy status) from Shoreditch Park. Those assets don’t improve things for the 13,000 families on Hackney’s waiting list, after all.

And perhaps it is uselessly ideological to dismiss Anthology’s concerns about affordable housing solely because developers are usually the bad guys arguing against providing it. Anthology didn’t choose the strangulatory planning and local government finance laws that stop Hackney being able to house its entire waiting list. (To be fair to Whitehall, for once, it is worth pointing out that Anthology didn’t build all these affordable homes out of the goodness of its heart: they were bankrolled partly by the Homes and Communities Agency, now Homes England. But they are a drop in the ocean.)

I think what is most uncomfortable is the way Anthology suggests, almost in the same breath as trumpeting its own tenure mix, the affordable homes on Shoreditch Park could have been better off outside the development altogether (even though Hackney is not exactly drowning in cheap land). Perhaps unfairly, the impression I get is that Anthology is more concerned about the value of its own private homes if their views of the park are obstructed. I wonder if that’s why it didn’t make a bigger deal of its objection in April. But maybe its motivations don’t matter: it’s a bad day for Hackney Council when a building firm has to give it a lecture on social housing.