Scrapped Watts Grove housing project back despite £300,000 ‘written-off’

Labour councillors demonstrated against the scrapping of the Watts Grove scheme in October

Labour councillors demonstrated against the scrapping of the Watts Grove scheme in October - Credit: Archant

A scrapped multi-million pound housing project in Bromley-by-Bow that saw £300,000 written off by the council was resurrected this week and given the go-ahead.

Tower Hamlets Council agreed the Watts Grove development at a cabinet meeting on February 5, in which Mayor Lutfur Rahman announced a “new funding model” that would create 149 homes.

The original plans were scrapped in July last year after the cost of the project shot up “dramatically”.

This meant that the £307,996 already spent by the council on legal, technical and financial advice was effectively written-off.

At the meeting, the mayor said the “stalled” project had been “rekindled” by the new funding model, and was necessary to help the 20,000 people on the council’s housing waiting list.

Mayor Rahman said: “By refusing to budge on our commitment to value for money we’ve secured the homes that residents need despite the climate of austerity.

“This is the approach Tower Hamlets needs to tackle our historic housing problems.”

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A council spokesman said: “The council has been able to benefit from additional public funding which has allowed us to implement the Watts Grove development scheme.”

Cllr Abdal Ullah, Labour’s housing spokesman, said: “For six months we have been urging Mayor Rahman to reconsider his decision to scrap these 149 homes. We are glad he has finally decided to listen.”

He added: “The whole process has been a complete shambles, with the project scrapped back in August only to be wheeled out again a few months before the election.

“Whatever he pledges now, the mayor cannot escape the fact that on his watch more council homes have been sold off than have been built.”

The written-off money included £88,250 on procurement, £67,654 on legal and financial advice, £72,000 on one technical advisor and £43,942 on other officers’ time.