London Mayor intervenes to increase affordable home quota for second time in two weeks

For a second time in just two weeks the Mayor of London has used his planning powers to their fullest extent and increased the number of affordable homes in a key development.

Sadiq Khan intervened after Wandsworth Council refused permission for the development of the site of a current Homebase store in Swandon Way in April this year, due to the height and scale of the development, and its proximity to a nearby conversation area.

The development included just 23% affordable housing, or 84 of the 348 homes in the scheme and Khan used his planning powers to ‘call in’ the development and has achieved an increase in the level of affordable housing to 35%.

The delivery of affordable homes has also been brought forward, with 55% arriving in the first phase, all of which would have been built much later under the previous plans and there is a review in place which could see affordable housing increase to as much as 50% if an agreed level of progress is not made on the development within two years.

The developer will contribute £2.5 million towards a new entrance to nearby Wandsworth Town station. The plans also include substantial cycle parking, retail and commercial units, and improvements to public spaces.

Later this year, the Mayor will publish his draft London Plan, which will set clear home building targets for every council in London.

‘I’ve made it clear I am committed to increasing the delivery of genuinely affordable housing in London, especially given the pitiful legacy I inherited, and I will use my full range of planning powers to achieve this,’ said Khan.

‘This development offers a significant number of high quality homes in a location which offers great transport links and local amenities. We have confirmed more than half of the affordable homes will be delivered up front in the first stage of construction,’ he pointed out.

‘I’m also really pleased we have secured a review mechanism which could increase the level of affordable housing further and that people who live and work in the area will benefit from a significant upgrade to Wandsworth Town Station,’ he added.

This is the second time in two weeks that the Mayor used his planning powers to their fullest extent. Earlier this month, he approved plans for 185 affordable homes in Mill Hill after intervening to double the amount of affordable homes to 40%.

He has now called on four developments since taking office and they have achieved an average of 37% affordable housing. Recent figures from London First show affordable housing across all approved planning applications in London rose to 30% in the first half of this year.

Shortly after becoming Mayor, Khan recruited a team of planning experts to scrutinise developers’ use of viability studies to cut affordable housing and earlier this year, he published his Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG), offering a surer, quicker route through the planning process for developments with at least 35% affordable housing, both steps underlining his tough approach to housing delivery.

The Mayor first saw the Wandsworth scheme at Stage One in February 2017, at which point the affordable housing offer was 25% or just 79 of 343 homes. When it returned to the Mayor at Stage Two in June 2017 following its refusal by Wandsworth Council planning committee the affordable housing offer had been reduced to 23% or 84 of 348 homes and none of the affordable housing was to be delivered in the first phase of development.

The proposed development includes 348 homes across three buildings of eight to 17 stories along with new retail, commercial and leisure space, as well as improvements to the public realm and extensive cycle parking.

The Mayor’s recently-published draft housing strategy sets out how he intends to push City Hall’s powers to their limits by directly intervening to increase housing delivery and how he plans to invest the record £3.15 billion secured from the Government in affordable housing.