Sadiq Khan rejects New Scotland Yard scheme over "unacceptable" affordable housing levels

By Kasmira Jefford - Tuesday, September 05, 2017 10:07

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London mayor Sadiq Khan has rejected amended plans for a £1bn luxury residential scheme on the site of the former New Scotland Yard building in Victoria, branding the scheme that would have lowered the proportion of affordable housing as "unacceptable".

BL Developments, the investment vehicle controlled by the Abu Dhabi Financial Group, was granted planning permission last year to demolish the 1960s office block, until recently the home of the Met Police, and replace it with six residential towers, with offices and shops on the lower floors.

Under the proposals for 10 Broadway, which were approved by former mayor Boris Johnson, BL Developments had agreed to make a £10m payment and build 10 affordable homes  – just 4% of all units.

Earlier this year the company submitted revised plans for the scheme citing "changes in market demand". BL Developments wanted to increase the total number of homes by 27, from 268 to 295, mainly by creating more flats out of the existing consented residential space.

Overall the gross internal area dedicated to residential would increase slightly by 780 sq m to 44,844 sq m but the area for affordable homes would remain the same at 999 sq m, or 10 homes.

Khan said that with its offer of no extra affordable homes nor any payment in lieu, the level of affordable housing fell to only 3%. As a result he has decided to refuse the planning application.

"A shortage of affordable homes is at the heart of the housing crisis in our city. The scheme put forward for this site is simply unacceptable: it fails to provide the maximum amount of affordable housing that could be delivered on this landmark site, and follows a previous application in which the affordable housing provision agreed by the previous Mayor was already appallingly low," he said.

"It beggars belief that the initial application was approved under the previous Mayor with a paltry four per cent affordable housing, just days before the Mayoral election."

Khan's decision follows his pledg to take a tougher approach to tackling the capital’s housing crisis starts as part of his mayoral campaign, which saw him elected last year.  

It also comes just a few weeks after he strongly criticised Wandsworth Council for allowing the developers of Battersea Power Station to slash the amount of affordable housing by 40 per cent, from 636 homes to just 386 – or only nine per cent of the 4,239 homes across the scheme. The Mayor had no formal power to intervene under current planning regulations, but wrote to the Council to object to the decision in the strongest terms.

Khan added: “This comes just a few weeks after the outrageous decision to cut the level of affordable housing at Battersea Power Station and I am more determined than ever to do all I can to ensure Londoners are not short-changed when it comes to developers doing their bit to help tackle London’s housing crisis. The government now needs to show it is committed to this too and devolve the powers to help me stop developers getting away with unacceptably low levels of affordable housing.”

Earlier this year the Mayor published his Supplementary Planning Guidance on viability and affordable housing, which said that developers offering at least 35 per cent affordable housing without public subsidy could expect a quicker, more certain route through the planning system.

The Mayor’s decision is part of wider efforts to tackle London’s housing crisis. Earlier this week he wrote to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, urging the government to allow increased council tax charges on empty properties in central London.

kjefford@costar.co.uk

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