Scheme to build 750 flats in Essex abandoned after social landlord cuts funding for 180 homes

The chairman of Weston Homes has blasted the government after a scheme that would have seen up to 750 flats built in Rainham, Essex, had to be abandoned when the social landlord left the housebuilder to shoulder the bill for social housing costs.

In an open letter to the council, Bob Weston said that the scheme, which was due to comprise 25% social housing, was axed after the social landlord pulled funding for 180 homes.

“I have just had to abandon a major scheme that would have provided over 750 new homes in an area that sorely needs them as the amount of money the social landlord’s were initially able to pay for more than 180 homes was drastically cut.

“But by cutting funding that enables social landlords to pay for the affordable homes private developers are willing to build - which are sold to them way below market value as it is - the government has prevented the scheme it actually approved from going ahead.”

Weston also lambasted the government for the criteria surrounding affordable housing schemes in the UK, stating that funding is not being spent on the poorest households. “One social landlord has been boasting that anyone earning up to £60,000 can qualify for its housing,” he said.

News that the scheme was to be abandoned was welcomed by Rainham council and the local MP, both of whom had opposed the plans.

Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and Rainham, said: “I am not surprised as housebuilding starts are at record lows and government cutbacks have reduced incentives.

“[But] every Rainham resident will welcome this. The local area could not have handled the extra pressures on school places, the NHS, transport and police.”

Dick Mortimer from Family Mosiac, one of the social landlord’s working with Weston on Dovers Corner said that the project relied on a funding system which wasn’t available in current economic circumstances. “What was viable in 2008 simply isn’t viable now,” He said. “Dovers Corner was modelled on a financial system which simply doesn’t exist anymore.”