CHINGFORD: Stow £14.5m loss revealed - as Boris decision delayed (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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CHINGFORD: Stow £14.5m loss revealed - as Boris decision delayed
A HOUSING association partly funded by the taxpayer could lose at least £14.5million from building a housing estate at Walthamstow Stadium, it has emerged.
Newly released figures also confirm that developers London and Quadrant (L&Q) bought the iconic site in Chingford Road for £18million in 2008, but the land is now valued at around £7million.
The revelations come from L&Q's own viability assessment of its plans, which Waltham Forest Council has finally made public after a Freedom of Information battle with campaigners.
The authority originally refused to release the documents, saying they were “commercially sensitive” to L&Q, but the government's Information Commissioner ordered their publication.
L&Q said it did not consider the shortfall to be a "loss" because it would be funded by its reserves.
A spokesman said as a not-for-proft group it invested long-term on housing to generate a surplus which was then re-invested.
The news comes as the council announced today that a final decision on the plans by London Mayor Boris Johnson will be delayed by a week.
Labour councillors approved L&Q's planning application to build 294 homes at the former dog racing venue in May but Mr Johnson has the final say due to the size of the development.
He was due to make a decision next Wednesday (October 24) but it has now been delayed until Tuesday October 30.
A council spokesman said: "we have been advised that the Mayor of London could no longer consider the application on the 24th October due to [a] personal holiday commitment.
"In the spirit of cooperation, our referral of the application has been withdrawn but has subsequently been resubmitted, giving the Greater London Assembly a further 14 days to determine the application".
Campaigners from Save Our Stow (SOS), which wants to see a return of greyhound racing at the stadium, said the revelations about the potential losses to L&Q demonstrated why Mr Johnson should reject the scheme.
SOS previously estimated L&Q's losses at £26million but spokesman Ricky Holloway said the £14.5million figure was misleading because the viability document was drawn up back in July 2011.
He claims the actual loss to L&Q is now around £24million, including £3.8million in 'section 106' community grant money L&Q is paying the council.
SOS estimates that flood relief work and other additional works identified after the viability assessment was completed have cost around £1.1million, that planning revisions would have cost an additional £500,000 and that L&Q were also likely to have spent £2.8million on holding costs while the site has been empty.
They say the £1.4million that L&Q expects to receive in grant money is “unreasonable” and believe that should also be counted towards the housing association's losses.
Mr Holloway said: “Boris Johnson now has very little choice but to call in the doomed site from the ill-run local council.
"Boris has stated that one of his main concerns is viability and his preferred option has always been greyhound racing and a mixed use site to which L&Q plans do not offer but create a public purse scandal of a £24.1 million loss."
The viability document estimates that the development will cost around £81million to build but £66.4million will be clawed back in payment from its new residents and grant money.
A L&Q spokesman said there was no cost to the taxpayer other than via the grant received from the government.
He added: “We look forward to the London Mayor's decision on our Walthamstow Stadium plans, which were approved by Waltham Forest Council in May.
"We propose to invest £50 million in creating 294 homes, a community-run sports centre, pocket allotments and a children's nursery.
"This regeneration scheme would create up to 250 jobs and would bring the architectural heritage of the site back into use for the whole community.”
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