Award-winning redeployable housing created to be relocated easily should not be moved because of high costs, according to officers.

Mayor and cabinet is set to make a decision on Wednesday (January 13) on the future of the PLACE building in Ladywell. 

PLACE, ‘a pop-up village’ owned by Lewisham Council, has housed homeless families since it opened on the site of a former leisure centre in 2016. 

The £5 million building, made up of 24 transportable flats and 16 office spaces, took six months to build. 

The council had always planned to move PLACE to another site in the borough to make way for a 232-home development which was approved in 2019.  

See related: PLACE/Ladywell temporary housing to be dismantled and moved

Officers looked at three potential relocation sites, including Forest Hill Car Park, a non-council owned site, and Slaithwaite Road car park – the latter was found to be the only suitable option. 

But a feasibility study found the cost of relocation would be much higher than previously thought.  

“[This was] due to a number of factors outside of the council’s control.  

“Chiefly, the additional requirements to comply with emerging policy changes to fire safety and building regulations,” the report states.  

Officers are recommending PLACE stay at the Ladywell site for the time being because doing that presents the least financial risk.  

They are also recommending that the development be phased rather than delivered all at once.  

This would mean the number of homes built in the first phase would reduce from 232 to 69, though the figure is indicative at this stage and the council is hoping to build “as many as possible”.  

The number of homes let at London Affordable Rent would also reduce from 50 per cent to 30 per cent, with 20 per cent instead offered as shared ownership.  

According to the report: “In 2019 mayor and cabinet approved proposals to deliver the site with 50 per cent of units for social rent.  

“However, the escalated costs as set out in the Part 2 to this report have resulted in the need to apply flexibility in the number of new homes to be delivered at a social rent.  

“Given the above, officers are recommending that mayor and cabinet approve proposals to seek a baseline policy compliant scheme with 50 per cent affordable housing – a split of 70 per cent social rent and 30 per cent intermediate products from the previous position to deliver 50 per cent social rent.  

“However, the intention will always be to deliver as many social rent homes as viability allows.” 

Officers have also recommended that a nursery currently on site is demolished to make way for the housing. 

In May 2020, Lammas Green Nursery was informed that the council planned to end a five-year lease for a container out of which it operates. 

The nursery faces eviction in April and will have to find a new home. 

Councillor Paul Bell, Lewisham’s cabinet member for housing and planning, said: “Throughout this process, Council officers have been in close communication with the nursery in order to ensure a smooth transition.  

“As well as extending the nursery’s lease until April 2021, the council has paid for specialist property consultants to assist the nursery in locating and negotiating on a new property.”