A letter from the director of housing at Waltham Forest Council claims a £160million housing estate redevelopment is being delayed because of fears over Brexit.
Work had been due to start in July at Marlowe Road, near Wood Street in Walthamstow, where 436 new homes are set to be built over the next five years. But a delay has meant work will now begin in September at the earliest.
The cause of the delay was claimed in a letter, sent this week to local business owners by Ken Jones, the council’s director of housing, to be “uncertain economic conditions that have resulted from the decision to leave the EU [European Union]”.
Ken said Countryside Properties, the company due to redevelop the council-owned Marlowe Road Estate, had told the local authority that it was “reviewing the impact of the EU referendum”.
He added: “The decision not to commence development at this time is due to the current national situation, and is not a reflection on Marlowe Road or Waltham Forest.”
The letter suggested the council did not know how long the delay would be. However, a statement was later issued – making no mention of the EU referendum – to clarify that work would commence in September.
Councillor Khevyn Limbajee, cabinet member for housing said: “The Marlowe Road Estate is home to a strong local community and we are committed to investing in it and creating new council homes.
“Everyone wants to get this project moving so even this short delay is regrettable. We are working and will continue to work closely with Countryside Properties to ensure that work starts as soon possible after the summer.”
A spokesman for Countryside Properties later denied that Brexit (Britain’s exit from the EU) had anything to do with the delays at Marlowe Road. He said: “We have looked into the issue and it appears that there was an administrative error on the part of Countryside.
“A junior member of the project team incorrectly briefed Waltham Forest Council. Unfortunately, by the time this error was spotted, letters to residents had already been issued. A new letter with correct information is being sent out this week.
“Both Countryside and Waltham Forest are fully committed to the Marlowe Road Estate and it is set to start on site in September this year. We apologise for any confusion or concern this has caused for residents.”
Residents of Marlowe Road Estate are shortly due to receive letters from the council setting out the current situation and what this means for them.
The redevelopment has stoked controversy on several fronts; with fewer social homes being built in place of those being demolished, Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) being issued to several homeowners in the area, and a popular playground being relocated during construction.
Granted planning permission by the council in November 2015, the Marlowe Road plans include the demolition of 166 social-rent homes. Of the 436 new homes due to be built there, 150 are for social rent, 18 are for shared ownership, and 268 are for private sale.