A consortium led by Wimpey Homes was named preferred bidder ahead of Berkeley Group subsidiary St George to regenerate the 12 ha site in February. But now the developers have applied to Lambeth council to form a joint venture to deliver the 10-year scheme.
Wimpey Homes development director Suzanna Lubran said: “Given the scale and commitment required on Project Vauxhall and the total dependence on the market for all its funding, a joint venture is an opportunity for the risk to be shared between two blue-chip companies.”
She added: “There is a natural synergy between our two companies and we have a history of joint ventures in the past.”
The scheme has had a troubled history. The original masterplan by PRP Architects was rejected by residents, and a new design by Carey Jones was submitted for residents’ approval this month. They will vote on the proposals in February 2000.
Residents demanded more mixed-tenure development, social housing located on streets with gardens, and more open space. Carey Jones’ masterplan includes a new park and more private apartment blocks.
PRP has been retained to carry out phase one design development after February 2000.
The density of the scheme is also understood to have been increased from 2500 to about 3000 units since Wimpey started joint-venture negotiations with St George in April.
A source at Lambeth council said negotiations with Wimpey/St George over the financial package for the scheme were ongoing. The source added that if residents rejected the new masterplan in February, “the whole thing may fall through”.
After three years of public consultations and negotiations, the joint venture bidders have yet to make the pioneering project stack up financially.
Lubran said: “We have been examining our commercial assumptions to see if we have a secure platform to take a project of this magnitude forward. We have to ensure we have a scheme that is both commercially viable and able to deliver a mix of new council houses, schools, training and employment and health initiatives.”
A source close to the project said of the joint venture: “It is the biggest property portfolio in London. There is the biggest amount for one developer to win or lose, and the biggest commitment in terms of schools, community facilities and social housing.
“Wimpey has huge expertise in low-rise development across the UK. St George has huge expertise in high-density development in central London. A joint bid would become all the more powerful.”