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.