Social housing tenants on a new development near Tower bridge will not have access to communal gardens, after the council agreed changes to planning permission.
The One Tower Bridge development, stands between City Hall offices, includes a block of affordable homesalongside eight blocks of luxury apartments costing between £1.45m and £15m.
In the initial planning applications agreed in 2011, the residents of the social housing block would be able to use a raised podium garden on the site. Berkeley Homes, describes “an appealing private courtyard garden, consisting of three individually designed areas, each characterised by its own unique water feature, including a dancing fountain, lily pond and stone bubbler fountain.”
In an application to have the agreement changed, however, Berkeley told Southwark council access to this garden would increase social tenants’ service charges to unaffordable levels.
Service charges were already high compared with other schemes, and the costs of maintaining the garden would increase it by around 20%. Further charges would also have to be levied to cover access fobs, cleaning common access and maintenance.
In a statement to the Guardian, Berkeley said: “Every affordable home on this site enjoys two substantial rooftop communal gardens with amazing views over the river Thames, Tower of London and Tower Bridge; and we are very proud that One Tower Bridge is genuinely tenure blind in terms of architecture, quality of materials, space standards and amenities.
“The proposed amendments to the legal agreement are sensible and practical. They positively benefit people living in the affordable homes by making those homes more affordable to live in.”
Residents of the 43 affordable homes will still have access to a children’s play area, another outdoor space, the public Potters Field park and a communal area on the roof of their block.
A further Berkley statement continues, “Changing the access arrangements for corporation of London residents to the podium garden now means they will not have to pay a higher service charge. It also has no significant impact on the level of amenity they enjoy. This is for two reasons: firstly, there are no facilities, such as children’s play equipment, within the podium garden to benefit from; and secondly, the corporation of London residents still benefit from a very large amount of their own communal space, which is more than three times the minimum policy requirement.
London SE1 quoted Lib Dem councillor Adele Morris as saying: “To the outsider this could look asif this is the private residents are being a bit snooty and saying ‘we don’t really want the corporation of London tenants using our space’.”