Crest Nicholson has withdrawn from plans to develop the Erith Western Gateway scheme in the Thames Gateway as a ‘consequence of the increasingly difficult climate’.
Chris Tinker, group board director and regeneration chairman, said he expressed his ‘regret and huge disappointment at having to take this difficult decision’, but the decision had to be made in ‘extraordinarily turbulent times’.
Crest Nicholson was selected in August last year to team up with Bexley Council and the Homes and Communities Agency to develop a mixed-use 13.5 acre scheme. It beat other developers including Barratt homes, Generator, Gleeson homes and Moat Homes with Bouygues.
The decision comes after the news last week that Crest Nicholson’s lenders had reached a debt-for equity swap agreement with the housebuilder reducing its debt by £630m for a 90% stake in the company.
Cllr Teresa O’Neill, leader of the London borough of Bexley, said: ‘We are all clearly disappointed at this decision which we know was not taken lightly. In the current economic climate a lot of businesses are reviewing their priorities and we understand that many developers will need to focus on schemes already underway.
'That said, a lot of work has gone into getting us this far and I am delighted that the Homes and Communities Agency is keen to continue to work with us in partnership on the regeneration of Erith.’
Philip Dibsdale, area director for the South London Gateway at the Homes and Communities Agency, said: ‘We are disappointed Crest Nicholson has had to withdraw from its involvement in Erith but can confirm that we remain fully committed to the regeneration of the Erith Western Gateway.
'The HCA is working closely with the London Borough of Bexley to enable the redevelopment of this area to begin as soon as possible.’
Orbit South had been working alongside Crest Nicholson to bring its offices and affordable housing into the scheme. Vivien Knibbs, managing director at Orbit South, said: ‘Despite this setback we remain committed to work with the Council and HCA to drive regeneration in Erith.’
Bexley College had also expressed an interest to relocate to the scheme.
The council said that it and its partners will continue those discussions directly and develop a revised programme to bring forward a first phase of development for the Erith Western Gateway.