News Walthamstow

Council offers to buy flat block developer cannot sell

Council leaders heard failing to buy the flats could “cause a significant delay” to the Marlowe Road estate rebuild

By Victoria Munro

Marlowe Road estate (credit: Penny Dampier)

A block of flats on a Walthamstow estate that the developer cannot sell itself could be bought by Waltham Forest Council to prevent the project stalling.

The regeneration of Marlowe Road Estate by developer Countryside, also building the planned flats around the town hall, was first agreed in 2016. The plans entailed demolishing the 298 low-rise flats around Northwood Tower and replacing them with 448 new homes.

Last year, after it had already built more than 300 flats, Countryside won permission to add an extra 150 homes onto the site in the final phases of construction, citing a £10.5million “viability deficit”.

However, a report prepared for council leaders yesterday states “it is important for Countryside” that it finds a buyer for a planned block of 47 shared ownership flats before the final stages of construction begin – and the council has decided to make an offer.

The report adds: “Countryside is looking to secure a buyer for these homes as it is not a registered provider and [is] therefore unable to sell the units directly itself as shared ownership.

“The acquisition of [the block] is considered to be a good opportunity and investment for the council [and] will facilitate the continued delivery of the Marlowe Road regeneration.

“In the event that the council did not purchase [the block], Countryside would need to find another registered provider[…] This would result in an additional landlord at Marlowe Road and result in a more complex management structure on the estate. This could also cause a significant delay to the scheme.

“Sales of the units will be prioritised to those already living and working in the borough, in line with the council’s shared ownership policy.”

Council leaders agreed to make a “financially viable and competitive offer” to Countryside for the flats, although the exact amount was not publicly revealed, using grant money from the Greater London Authority designated for affordable housing. 

The report states a possible risk of the purchase is that a “prolonged market downturn could leave the council with units that it is unable to sell or that are devalued from the price that it paid”.

However, the report notes that flats are not due to be completed and ready for purchase until 2025.