Housebuilder pulls out of £80m Haggerston West regeneration scheme citing ‘commercial reasons’ for decision

The £80m Haggerston West regeneration scheme in Hackney, north-east London, is expected to fall further behind schedule after the developer left last week.

John Laing Partnership cited commercial concerns for quitting the project. It has left housing associations London & Quadrant and Ujima without a firm to construct the 764-home scheme.

John Laing Partnership said in a statement that the split was “amicable”. It said that it had made the decision because it had doubts about whether it could make sufficient money from the scheme. The firm said it would continue to work with London & Quadrant on three other schemes in London.

Stuart Miller, deputy managing director of John Laing Partnership, said: “For commercial reasons, John Laing Partnership reluctantly withdrew on 26 August from London & Quadrant Housing Trust’s partnership for regenerating the Haggerston West and Kingsland Estates in Hackney.

“The proposals developed to the point where the timescales and structure of the scheme no longer fit within our plans for our business.”

London & Quadrant said that it remained committed to the project and was looking for a partner. A spokesperson said the start of construction, scheduled for January, would be delayed by at least two months.

The project has had a long and troubled history. It used to form part of a package of projects earmarked for European Renewal Challenge Fund money, which invested £487m between 1996 and 1998 on stock transfers to housing associations.

However, Haggerston West and Kingsland ceased to be eligible for this source of funding after it emerged that most of the blocks had to be demolished rather than refurbished.

The scheme was then developed separately and was the subject of an ambitious masterplan by architects Jestico + Whiles and Peter Barber Architects, which was commissioned in 2001. The plan included a kilometre-long linear park to link the impoverished estates of north Hackney with Hoxton, crossing Regent’s Canal.

But the scheme was delayed again when it emerged last year that Hackney council planned to sell the estates to a housing association that would not be required to use the J+W/ PBA masterplan. The scheme was then handed over to a consortium including London & Quadrant, John Laing Partnership and PRP in January this year. PRP has prepared a fresh masterplan.

One housing expert said that the residents of Haggerston West had been in limbo for too long.

He said: “Seven years ago Haggerston West seemed to have a bright future, but nothing’s happened. Worse, as soon as an area is to be regenerated everything stops: it’s blighted.”