Harrow’s residents can look forward to new homes, new communities, new business opportunities and new jobs, following a decision by Harrow Council’s Cabinet last night to work with Wates Residential on a long-term regeneration vision for the borough.
This ambition will be realised through three large underused urban sites in and around the Wealdstone area, with their transformation over the next 10 years set to contribute significantly to local growth and prosperity.
The three sites, which are all owned by the council, have huge potential to support new neighbourhoods, commercial premises and community facilities. Together they represent one of the largest brownfield developments in west London.
At the heart of this vision are more than 1,500 high-quality new homes for local people, with more than 40 per cent of these offered for rent at below market rate or as shared ownership properties.
The commercial partnership with leading developer and contractor, Wates Residential, will deliver all this at no cost to the taxpayer.
Cllr Graham Henson, Leader of Harrow Council, says: “This decision opens up Harrow to a new and exciting future. Our work with Wates will benefit countless local people and improve the lives of generations to come. As we begin to emerge from the devastating pandemic, I want this to signal the start of our renewal.
“Wates Residential has a wealth of experience delivering high-quality development projects. With their expertise we will unlock the potential of these sites, creating new communities and new opportunities for local people.
“I’d like to extend a very warm welcome to Wates and look forward to the amazing things I know our partnership can achieve.
“Harrow is crying out for high-quality affordable housing. Too many people are trapped in unsuitable, overcrowded accommodation. They deserve places to live that will support their success and allow their families to flourish.
“We are committed to doing all that we can to meet Harrow’s future needs within our existing developed environment. That means using sites like these much more efficiently.
“By making this commitment, we can protect our precious greenbelt and ensure that the development proposals we bring forward are appropriate, sustainable and backed by investment in infrastructure.”
Helen Bunch, Executive Managing Director, Wates Residential, says: “We at Wates Residential are really excited to be a part of this amazing regeneration scheme that is going to transform the face of Harrow.
This £690 million regeneration programme will deliver 1500 quality affordable homes, a new civic centre, commercial space as well as green public spaces for the people of Harrow to enjoy.
“The regeneration goes beyond the building infrastructure, and as part of the partnership with Harrow, we are committed to supporting the local community by providing apprenticeships, new jobs, spend in the local community and early careers support for the local schools and colleges.
This is the Wates way, because everybody deserves a great place to live and we look to leave a lasting legacy around the communities we create.”
The three core sites on which the new Harrow Strategic Development Partnership will focus are Poets Corner, currently the site of the Council’s Civic Centre; Peel Road, off Wealdstone High Street and Byron Quarter, next to Byron Park and including the site of an old driving test centre.
On the Peel Road site, it’s planned, will be built a much smaller and more efficient Civic Centre, also at no cost to the taxpayer.
Local residents will be consulted extensively on the proposals for each site. The first to progress will be Phase 1 of Byron Quarter, with initial plans for the old driving test centre site likely to come forward later this year.
Wates Residential, part of leading privately-owned construction, property services and development company, the Wates Group, was identified as the council’s preferred bidder to form a development partnership in September 2020.
The company came through strongly against industry competitors, scoring highly in all areas. Councillors were drawn to Wates’s positive response to the climate emergency and bold targets for eliminating harm to the environment.
They were also impressed by Wates’s commitment to social value. As part of the deal struck with Harrow Council, Wates Residential plans to create more than 300 jobs for local people and 180 apprenticeships.
The company has committed to significant spend with local small and medium sized businesses during construction phases and will undertake a ‘Wild Wealdstone’ project of tree planting and other environmental initiatives.
The Cabinet’s approval to form a partnership with Wates will now see the creation of a new legal entity called ‘Harrow Strategic Development Partnership’ – the council and Wates will each own a 50 per cent share.
The council’s equity is made up in part by the value of the three development sites it owns plus a top up to match Wates’s investment, which will be found from borrowing.
The long-term business case is projected to return £120million. The council’s share of this money – less than its spend each year on adult social care – will be reinvested into local services.
For further information, see the Cabinet report Harrow Strategic Development Partnership – Contract Close and Establishment.