Mayor uses planning powers to increase affordable homes in Wandsworth

17 October 2017

Development to deliver minimum 35 per cent affordable housing

More than half affordable homes to be delivered in first phase

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today used his planning powers to boost significantly the number of genuinely affordable homes being delivered on a new housing development in Wandsworth.

The Mayor 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 per cent affordable housing, or 84 of the 348 homes in the scheme.

The Mayor used his planning powers to ‘call in’ the development and has achieved an increase in the level of affordable housing to 35 per cent – meaning 136 of the 385 homes in the approved plans will be affordable.

The delivery of affordable homes has also been brought forward, with 55 per cent arriving in the first phase – all of which would have been built much later under the previous plans.

The Mayor has agreed a review mechanism, which could see affordable housing increase to as much as 50 per cent 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.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “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.

“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.

“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.”

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 per cent.

The four developments he has ‘called in’ since taking office have achieved an average of 37 per cent affordable housing. Recent figures from London First show affordable housing across all planning applications in London rose to 38 per cent in the first half of this year. Toward the end of the previous Mayor’s term in office, affordable housing in planning permissions hit a low of just 13 per cent.

Shortly after becoming Mayor, Sadiq 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 least 35 per cent affordable housing – both steps underlining his tough approach to housing delivery.

Notes to editors

  • The development now includes 35 per cent affordable housing (both by unit numbers and by habitable room) meaning it meets the Mayor’s threshold for following the ‘Fast Track Route’ in his Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG).
     
  • A review mechanism detailed as part of the terms of the permission means if a mutually agreed level of progress on the development has not been reached within two years of permission being granted, the level of affordable housing will be increase to as much as 50 per cent.
     
  • The Mayor first saw this scheme at Stage One in February 2017, at which point the affordable housing offer was 25 per cent (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 per cent (84 of 348 homes).
     
  • When the scheme was refused by Wandsworth Council, none of the affordable housing was to be delivered in the first phase of development. Following the Mayor’s intervention, 55 per cent will be part of the first phase.
     
  • 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 full planning report for the scheme in Swandon Way is available here: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/planning-applications-and-decisions/public-hearings/swandon-way.
     
  • The revised proposal, as approved by the Mayor, complies with his Affordable Housing and Viability SPG as it offers at least 35 per cent affordable housing without public subsidy.
     
  • 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 government in affordable housing.
     
  • Later this year, the Mayor will publish his draft London Plan, which will set clear homebuilding targets for every council in London.
     
  • 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. For more information, see: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/planning-applications-and-decisions/public-hearings.
     
  • This is the fourth time the Mayor has called in a planning application since he took office:

    Palmerston Road, Wealdstone: 186 homes, (41 per cent affordable – 74 homes)
    Hale Wharf, Tottenham Hale: 505 homes (35 per cent affordable – 177 homes)
    National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill: 460 homes (40 per cent affordable – 185 homes)