What did Grosvenor do to get its £500m BTR scheme across the line?

Outdoor space - Grosvenor Bermondsey scheme - BTR News
Outdoor space - Grosvenor Bermondsey scheme - BTR News

Grosvenor was granted planning permission for their £500m Build to Rent (BTR) neighbourhood at the former biscuit factory in Bermondsey, South London. Permission was granted after their second time of asking.

Grosvenor was denied planning permission first time round by planning officers at Southwark Council in February 2019, mainly because they didn’t meet the council targets for affordable housing. 

“Bringing about positive and lasting change for Bermondsey has always been our focus. However, our original planning application was not good enough. We acted in good faith, but it didn’t meet the council’s expectations.”

Simon Harding Roots, Executive Director, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland

In May 2019, the project was called in by the Mayor’s office who worked closely with Southwark Council and the GLA to increase the level of affordable housing, while ensuring the project and other benefits remained deliverable. In February 2020, the deputy Mayor of London approved the proposals.

So what did Grosvenor do to get the proposals for their BTR development approved?

Changed the number of affordable housing

Southwark Council’s affordable housing target is 35%, and Grosvenor’s first proposal included 27.5% affordable homes within the development. Second time round, this was increased to 35%, creating 482 affordable homes.

Changed the type of affordable homes

The affordable homes in the scheme were originally discounted at an average of 25% of market rent. However, there is now 30% at social rents where tenants won’t have the option to buy the property, and the other 70% is discounted at 40%.

Changed the size of the scheme

As the number of affordable housing was increased, the number of homes increased from 1,342 to 1,548. To accommodate the increase, heights of some building in the heart of the site, near the railway line went up between one and seven storeys, with the tallest tower at 35 storeys instead of its previous 28.

The BTR scheme’s design quality was also improved, so many of the homes will benefit from balconies. The scheme will still provide flexible office spaces and a new 600 pupil secondary school. But the retail and leisure spaces in the scheme was reduced.

“We have worked hard to address the clear call from the community, council and Mayor to deliver more affordable housing while ensuring the project, and its many other benefits, can become a reality.”

Simon Harding Roots, Executive Director, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland