Lambeth council got just £8,000 in community infrastructure levy for the conversion of flats in Ranger Mansions, Jasper Road – instead of the £31,578 they should have received, says the People’s Audit Lambeth report:
This property in Jasper Road, Crystal Palace consisted of eight flats. A planning application was submitted by London Green Ltd in August 2012 to refurbish the properties and add five additional units, bringing the total number of flats to thirteen. Planning permission was granted by Lambeth in October 2012. (33)
People’s Audit Lambeth say that according to a FOI response from Lambeth, the property was sold to London Green Ltd for £1.5 million after an informal tender process. (34) An archived London Green web page states, “London Green purchased this derelict apartment building…and massively enhanced the value of the site by gaining permission to reconfigure and extend to create fourteen self-contained flats. “The site was sold on within a month of being purchased, quickly realising a considerable profit.”
The land registry shows that the land was sold to a company called London Tower Developments Ltd in February 2013.(35) The People’s Audit report says: “We could find no records before or after of the property being sold to London Green Ltd or to any other developer. “Two of the directors of London Green were also directors of London Tower Developments, prior to resigning from London Tower Developments Ltd in March 2013. (36) “London Green Ltd did not respond to our request for clarification of the ownership of the property.”
The property was finally developed by Vanquish Iconic, whose two directors are also directors of London Tower Developments, says the report. London Tower Developments went into voluntary liquidation in January 2016. Lambeth is listed in the liquidator’s statement as being a creditor. (37)
Lambeth contacted the liquidator more than two years after the development was completed alleging that the developer owed them £31,578 in unpaid CIL contributions.
CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) is a planning charge which is payable by developers to local authorities following granting of planning permission. CIL is normally payable within a few weeks of the development commencing. Lambeth subsequently settled with the liquidator for £8,000.
The 14 flats in the development were sold in 2014 for between £325,000 and £500,000, netting the developer £5.73 million. (38)
35 Land Registry Title LN134907 dated 22nd February 2013
Rushcroft Road in Brixton was perhaps one of the more well-known sell offs of council properties, not least because of the press attention that the eviction of the existing residents received, says the report. (13). Three of the properties (Clarence, Lancaster and Matlock houses) evicted were sold to Lexadon for £7.5 million. (14) After conversion, flats within these properties are now being rented out for over £3,000 a month.
Part of the capital raised by this sale went towards the refurbishment of the three other council properties that were evicted on Rushcroft Road (Granville, Homer and Oval Houses). (15) The refurbishment of these did not go to plan, not least because Lambeth asked the contractors to price the works without even allowing them to inspect the building as it was still in occupation. This resulted in an initial cost of £2,054,48916 increasing to a final cost of £3,443,371, the report adds. (17)
“The refurbishment did at least create 19 refurbished council properties which are let at council rent. “What is of concern is the amount of money it took to refurbish the properties, which equates to £181,000 per property.
“This is a huge amount, especially when compared to the sums Lambeth has claimed it cannot afford to spend on refurbishment of other council properties. “For example, Lambeth has chosen demolition over repair for homes in Cressingham Gardens estate, where repairs were estimated by Lambeth to be £31,000 per property.
The answer to this apparently contradictory stance would appear to lie in a Lambeth report which states “The Rushcroft Road project itself is a highly political and significant project for Lambeth…. The success of Lambeth seizing control of the Rushcroft from squatters, hinges upon the success of the refurbishment project. The blocks have a strategic location in Brixton and their improvement will be ‘revered’ and has the potential to be regarded as a beacon of excellence far beyond Brixton….. Failure in this instance to complete Rushcroft Road works has major reputational implications for the borough as it asserts itself on the national stage.” (18) (This last comment placed in bold in report – Ed.)
“Whilst our research concentrates on properties sold by Lambeth since 2010, it is worth noting that in 2009 Lambeth sold two other properties in Rushcroft Road, Hereford House and Rosslyn House, for £2,427,185. (19) The properties were bought by Mendoza, a property developer registered in the Isle of Man. (20) Flats here now sell for in excess of £500,000.
“Mendoza also bought former short-life properties and a parade of shops from Lambeth in Wandsworth Road for £1.9 million. (21) The existing flats here were sold to new leaseholders. In addition Mendoza built three new properties at the rear of the property. (22)
14 Land Registry Titles LN187057, 152124 and 112311
17 Lambeth Council FOI response to People’s Audit dated 22nd October 2018
19 Land Registry Title LN145701 and SGL178857
21 Land Registry Title TGL344649