Harrow Council was accused of wasting more than £7 million on its previous regeneration strategy after it decided to adopt a new approach in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Conservative councillors said the current administration had “nothing to show” for its efforts after it was forced to write off £7.2 million of costs associated with its initial regeneration programme, which included plans for a new civic centre in Wealdstone.

The council took the decision to re-examine the project following the outbreak of Covid-19 and the impact this has had on finances and the wider way of operating.

This included entering a ‘strategic development partnership’ with construction company Wates, who will support the council in its ambitions to redevelop three sites in the borough – Poets Corner, the new civic centre plot in Peel Road, and Byron Quarter.

But Harrow Conservatives criticised this decision, suggesting it had effectively cost millions of pounds without any real return.

Cllr Pritesh Patel (Con, Harrow Weald) told a council cabinet meeting last week: “The writing-off of £7 million from the revenue outturn report suggests deeply that there’s endemic problems in how we manage our projects and resources within the council.

“You mention that it is due to the previous regeneration project but the reason its written off is because you’ve totally failed in these projects.

“You’ve totally failed in delivering anything for several years on the regeneration front and you’re now restarting the whole programme.”

Cllr Natasha Proctor (Lab, Wealdstone) explained the changes were made to cater for “the most significant and long-lasting programme” the council will undertake.

“The world has moved on significantly since the council embarked on its regeneration plans and it rightly paused its original plans to ensure it has a new direction of travel that achieves its objectives,” she said.

“It will share the financial risk with an experienced development partner alongside benefiting from the knowledge of said partner and adapt the plans that were not fit for purpose in this new normal.”

She added there is evidence of clear regeneration in Harrow – least not in her own ward – and said this would continue under the new approach.

“You just have to walk around Wealdstone to see the activity that, despite the pandemic, have been able to take place,” she said.

“Wealdstone Square is completely different to how it was a year ago, let alone two years ago. It’s not a failure, we’re just restarting from where we were and doing things differently.”