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Affordable Housing

Re-think of Enfield flats over affordable homes money

Councillors have called for a rethink of plans for a new block of flats because of lack of support for affordable housing.

Enfield planning officers had recommended giving the go-ahead to proposals to knock down two detached houses on The Ridgeway and build a two-storey block of flats on the site.

They said the nine flats – a mix of two and three-bed homes – would “optimise the site to its greatest extent” without harming the character of the surrounding area.

But councillors raised concerns over a financial assessment that stated the developer only needed to pay around 60 per cent of the expected sum of money to provide affordable homes in the borough.

Steven Woods, who lives in neighbouring Woodridge Close, spoke out against the plans at a meeting of the planning committee on Tuesday (April 23).

He said: “These properties are luxury apartments – why are the council proposing to take lower payments?

“I would ask the people on this committee, ‘do they think this development is going to benefit many people in Enfield or few people?’

“I am someone who looks at the many, not the few.

“Only a few people are going to benefit and make hundreds of thousands, if not millions – and we are compromising the money we are going to be taking from them in contributions.”

Enfield Council has a target of ensuring half of all homes on new developments are classed as affordable.

When this is not possible – such as on smaller sites with lower profit margins – developers are asked to pay a sum of money to help build affordable homes on other sites.

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The applicant, Landvest Developments, submitted a viability report drawn up by Arebray Development consultancy – which was independently assessed by a commercial surveyor – stating it could make a contribution of £161,730 towards affordable homes.

That is only 60 per cent of a “normally expected figure” of £271,296 for developments of a similar scale.

Cllr Chris Bond, Labour member for Southbury, told the committee: “We should be getting £271,000.

“At this austere time that we are still in, I think it is amazing that someone is getting away with £100,000 less.

“Quite simply, they are not paying us the right amount of money.

“I will be looking at this figure more closely in future.”

Andy Higham, the council’s head of development management, said: “Officers take the issue of affordable housing contributions very seriously.

“It is not always possible on a scheme to get what we require. We have secured a good position using the same consultant we used on a scheme up in Cockfosters.”

But Labour member for Lower Edmonton Cllr Sinan Boztas said: “The affordable housing contribution needs to be higher for an area like Highlands.

“These figures need to be reconsidered.”

Councillors voted by a large majority to defer the application so the affordable homes contribution could be reconsidered.

The issue of developers making low contributions towards affordable housing was recently raised at a planning meeting in neighbouring Barnet.

Labour councillors there called on planning officers to drive a harder bargain after one developer backed down on claims it could not pay the full sum demanded by the Barnet Council and pledged to up its previous offer by more than £200,000.

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Source: By Simon Alin

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