Wednesday, 09 December 2020 11:14

Another rebuff to gas works flats: Mayor of London says No

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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has backed Barnet Council's decision to reject planning permission for the construction of blocks of flats of up to ten storeys high on the former gas works site at New Barnet.

His refusal to intervene has been welcomed by groups which campaigned against what they think would be a horrendous, high-rise monstrosity totally out of keeping with the village-like atmosphere of the locality.
In turning down the Victoria Quarter plan – against the advice of the Mayor’s own planning officials – Mr Khan says he does not wish to take over the application and is content for Barnet’s planning committee to decide what happens in the future.

Mr Khan makes it clear his decision could be reviewed by the Secretary of State for the Environment, who has the power to call in the application.
This means there is one remaining possibility for the joint developers – Fairview New Homes and One Housing Group – to gain approval for their plan to provide 652 flats in 14 buildings of up to ten storeys high.

 

There were over 1,000 objections to the scheme which was rejected unanimously last September by the council’s planning committee.

In a report to the Mayor, his planning officers recommended that he should intervene and should order the development to go ahead because there were “sound planning reasons” in its favour and because it would have a “significant impact” in delivering affordable housing as laid out in the London Plan.
In the view of his officers, Barnet Council’s delivery of new affordable housing was “significantly below” its target.
“Over the last three years Barnet Council has underdelivered on its housing targets and significantly and consistently underdelivered on its affording housing targets.”

Therefore, the officers believed approval should be given to the Victoria Quarter development at New Barnet because 209 of the new flats would be affordable and this would equate to 22 per cent of Barnet’s target for affordable housing and 1.2 per cent of London’s total annual affordable housing need and this would “significantly contribute towards the London Plan.”
In his decision letter rejecting his officers’ recommendation, Mr Khan makes no reference to the affordable housing argument and said that “contrary” to their advice, he did not think there were sound planning reasons to intervene.

 

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, welcomed the Mayor’s decision as has Robin Bishop, chair of the Barnet Society.
Mr Bishop said rejection of the plan was good news for New Barnet and would give encouragement to the campaign against high-rise development planned for the car park at High Barnet tube station.
“Hopefully, this is a warning shot to Transport for London to scale back their plans for high-density development at the car park and perhaps an indication of a change of heart on the part of TfL and the Mayor about pushing ahead with high density developments in the suburbs.”
Mr Bishop thought it perhaps unlikely that the Secretary of State would call in the Victoria Quarter plan because it had been rejected by both Barnet Council and the Mayor of London.
He hoped the rejection paved the way for the developers to co-operate with local campaigners and planners to devise a housing development that was more in keeping with the New Barnet locality.
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2 comments

  • Comment Link Friday, 18 December 2020 11:41 posted by Kit Carstairs

    Excellent newsletter as always, thanks.
    Delighted that the Mayor has seen reason- all down to our objections? Well I don't think so... there's an election coming up and I suspect that Khan doesn't want to enter the fray holding this particular ticking time bomb!
    The same might not be said for the station development. He is after all the Chairman of TfL as well as Mayor, so ample room to sidestep the issue.
    Happy Christmas to all.

  • Comment Link Monday, 21 December 2020 10:18 posted by Lloyd Isaac Zokay

    So far, so good - but it looks like Mayor Khan is already preparing the ground to pass the buck to the Secretary of State. If we are not careful, we are likely to end up with a compromise scheme that is half way between this particular Aunt Sally and the earlier proposal. So we must stay vigilant.

    The real problem is that we are too often too willing to accept the cheapest standards of housing (especially for others) in order to compensate for high land prices. Meanwhile, the building companies are hoarding the land, scamming the rest of us (think, the leasehold scandal),skimping on quality and making a killing. All supported by government policies that imagine increasing peoples' ability to buy housing (selling council housing at vast discounts, the "help to buy" schemes, the notion of "affordable" housing, stamp duty breaks, etc) will somehow increase the supply of rather than the price of housing.

    Too big a subject for now, I suppose. But I've got it off my chest!

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