John Lewis has come under renewed fire from residents over its £500 million plans to enter the rental property market amid concerns it will fail to deliver on affordable housing targets.
In December the partnership unveiled a multi-decade joint venture with investment firm Abrdn for about 1000 new rental homes across three local communities, of which two are in London.
But some 90% of the resident responses to a consultation over one of the developments in Ealing were negative by the deadline for comments yesterday, after John Lewis said its 35% affordable housing target would be scaled back unless it received local authority funding. A John Lewis spokesperson did not confirm whether it was set to receive the funding.
Residents also complain that at 20 storeys high, the tallest of the four tower blocks proposed by John Lewis is signficantly higher than guidance set out by Ealing Council under its local plan.
The leader of Ealing Council, Peter Mason, has also voiced his concerns about the plans.
“It’s disappointing to say the least,” he said on Twitter earlier this year.
“At the moment it feels like a big institution are trying to twist arms & bully through a scheme that could be far better.”
Justine Sullivan, co-chair of local campaign group Stop the Towers, said John Lewis “has ignored local community opposition to their excessive plans and ridden roughshod over Ealing council’s guidance for the site.”
“Residents of West Ealing support appropriate and proportionate developments that will genuinely benefit the local community but JLP’s current plans will not deliver this,” she said.
The Partnership’s Ealing plans suffered a further setback today after council officials decided to extend the public consultation by another month following a second planning application by Waitrose to open a temporary store during the construction period if the project goes ahead.
A council spokesperson said: “The local planning authority wants to consult locally on both applications at the same time. The temporary store application has now been received. This effectively means that the consultation period will be extended for a further four weeks.”
A John Lewis Partnership spokesperson said: “We’ve set out our ambition to deliver 35% affordable housing to ensure good availability of quality, rental homes.
“This is an ongoing process in which we are working closely with a range of local stakeholders to meet the needs of the local community.”