A controversial scheme to sell public land in Greenwich to private developers is to be reconsidered after complaints about the decision.

Greenwich Council’s cabinet signed off proposals to dispose of estate land to Pocket Living, subject to a consultation with tenants, and spend the cash on delivering social housing.

Pocket, which specialises in affordable housing, is proposing to build 151 one-bedroom flats, 100 per cent affordable, on three car-parking and garage sites in The Heights in Charlton, Kidbrooke Park Close and Quince Road in Blackheath.

The decision was called in to a special scrutiny meeting on August 8 following concerns the decision had been made before an opportunity for feedback from councillors and the public.

The panel unanimously voted to send the decision back to the cabinet to reconsider.


The council’s cabinet had agreed to consult with leaseholders for 28 days before a final decision is made, but there were calls for stronger moves, such as a binding ballot with residents.

Residents living on the affected estates told the panel they felt they had been kept in the dark about the proposals until the decision had been made.

One resident said: “We put you in your job, and you should represent our interests. You’ve failed in that by not mentioning to the locality that this was in mind.

“The density that is proposed is way out of proportion.  But it’s more the way you’ve done it. We deserve as residents to be consulted – 28 days is not enough.”


The decision was ‘called in’ by councillors Gary Parker and Leo Fletcher, who called for greater transparency over the process that picked Pocket over other bodies to develop the sites.

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Kidbrooke Park 

Cllr Parker said: “There is no housing at social rent as part of the proposals.

“Given that Pocket will make a profit, could best value not have been achieved with a social provider rather than a private developer? It is debatable whether the properties represent value for money.

“Should the council sell public land to developers? Public land is a precious asset, and should not be disposed of without thorough valuation and, in this case, reassessment and referral to the housing scrutiny panel before a decision is made.”

Cllr Leo Fletcher added: “A petition has already been signed by 50 residents – to reassure them, and to strengthen the decision, we need meaningful consultations.”


Questions were raised over the process that led to the agreement to work with Pocket Living.

Cllr Nigel Fletcher pressed council bosses as to why Pocket had been selected to buy and develop the land with no competition from other bodies.

Pippa Hack, the the director of regeneration and enterprise, said private developers approach the council constantly, but Pocket’s ability to cater for specific demand meant the council was more likely to enter into discussion with it because it could “meet a certain cohort of demand.”

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Quince Road

Cllr John Fahy, deputy of the panel, said he saw no reason the council-established development company couldn’t work on the sites instead.

He said: “We have 17,000 of people on our housing waiting list. We need to develop a mixed economy of housing provision – which this scheme doesn’t do. There’s no reason whatsoever that our own provider can’t work in partnerships to achieve our objectives.”

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Cllr Chris Kirby, the cabinet member for housing, said the council’s development company Meridian was not ready to take on a seventh site in the borough.

He went on: “They are not specialists in smaller sites – Pocket are. These are not the sites that work for that delivery partner.”