London Mayor intervenes in housing plans near historic Kew Gardens

London Mayor uses his planning powers to get more affordable homes on key site

A major development in London which will deliver hundreds of new homes, half of which will be affordable housing, has been given the green light by the Mayor.

Using the ‘full strength’ of his planning powers, Sadiq Khan has approved plans for 441 new homes on the site of a former Citroen car dealership in Brentford, of which 218 will be aimed at both shared ownership for first time buyers and homes based on social rent levels for households on low incomes.

The development was refused by Hounslow Council in February this year but Khan has used his planning powers to push through the development and make sure that there are a large number of affordable homes.

After considering the scheme the Mayor decided to ‘call in’ the scheme and make a final decision himself and the 50% level of affordable housing was secured following his intervention after the borough rejected the application at a stage when it included 40% affordable housing.

The approved scheme includes a review mechanism which means that if building is not well underway within two years of the permission being granted, the developer could be compelled to provide further affordable homes.

The application was refused by Hounslow planning officers under delegated authority in February this year, citing concerns including the impact on historic buildings in the world heritage site at the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

The Mayor held public hearing on July 20, in which he heard evidence from parties for and against the development, including Hounslow Council, the developer L&Q, local residents and Historic England.

Khan’s formal decision was made following a site visit on Wednesday 22 August.
Under the terms of application, the developer will also contribute £30,000 towards improvements to nearby Gunnersbury Station.

‘This scheme shows how we can unlock the potential of an underused site to build more of the genuinely affordable homes Londoners so urgently need. I’m clear that to fix the capital’s housing crisis Government must play its part, but we can make a difference now by ensuring developments include more genuinely affordable housing,’ said Khan.

‘I have carefully considered the impacts of these plans, particularly the effect on historic buildings in nearby Kew Gardens, and have concluded that the benefit of delivering more than 400 homes, including 218 genuinely affordable homes, justifies granting permission,’ he explained.

‘I am committed to using the full strength of my planning powers to get London building more affordable homes. This is another important step as we work towards my long term strategic goal for 50% of housing in all new developments across the city to be social rented and other genuinely affordable homes for Londoners,’ he added.

Under article 7 of the Mayor of London Order (2008), the Mayor can take over (‘call in’) applications which have been rejected by London boroughs, effectively becoming the local planning authority for an application.