Khan backs 385 Wandsworth homes after improved affordable housing offer

London mayor Sadiq Khan has approved plans for a 385-home mixed-use development in Wandsworth after the scheme's applicant increased its affordable housing provision to 35 per cent following a 'robust interrogation' of its viability appraisal by City Hall officers.

Sadiq Khan: approved Wandsworth proposals following call-in (picture European Parliament, Flickr)
Sadiq Khan: approved Wandsworth proposals following call-in (picture European Parliament, Flickr)

In a decision issued yesterday, Khan approved applicant National Grid UK Pension Scheme’s plans to build three buildings ranging from eight to 17 storeys to provide a mixed-use scheme on the site of a current Homebase store in Swandon Way, Wandsworth.

Khan called in the application for his own determination after Wandsworth Council refused permission for the development in April this year, due to the height and scale of the proposals, and its proximity to a nearby conversation area.

According to a Greater London Authority (GLA) officer’s report, the application as originally submitted to the council in January sought permission for 343 residential units, of which 79 were offered as intermediate affordable housing (25 per cent by habitable room).

The report added that, during the course of the council’s consideration of the application, some changes were made to the residential unit mix, increasing the number of residential units to 348 and the number of affordable intermediate units to 84, "although with a rebalancing of the unit mix the proportion of habitable rooms was reduced to 23 per cent".

According to the report, following the mayor’s takeover of the application, the applicant made amendments to the scheme, increasing the number of units to 385, and increasing the affordable housing provision to 35 per cent, comprising 51 intermediate and 85 affordable rent units.

The report said that, at stage 2 - the point at which the mayor considers whether to call-in the application - Khan "made clear that all options for increasing on-site affordable housing must be explored".

The report added that, since Khan’s decision to take over the application in June 2017, "GLA officers have therefore reviewed the scheme viability and worked with the applicant to secure additional affordable housing".

According to the report, as a result of "robust interrogation" of the applicant’s viability appraisal, GLA officers raised concerns with the outcome of the earlier appraisal. "The low existing use value of the site, combined with the high-value location and proximity to Wandsworth Town Station led GLA officers to conclude that this scheme can viably support 35 per cent affordable housing," the report said.

The report said that the increased affordable housing offer meets the fast track route threshold target of 35 per cent as set out within the mayor’s new supplementary planning guidance (SPG) on affordable housing and viability.

The SPG states that, where applicants are meeting a 35 per cent threshold for affordable housing provision alongside an appropriate tenure mix and with no public subsidy, they would receive a fast-track approach with no viability assessment being required by the GLA.

The report adds that an early implementation review mechanism, triggered in the event that development has not be substantially implemented with two years of the grant of planning permission, "will secure the delivery of more affordable housing (up to 50 per cent of the scheme or the level of grant funding) should it be viable".

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."

Earlier this month, Khan approved a 460-home scheme in Barnet, north-west London, saying that his "tough approach" to affordable housing had seen the proportion of affordable homes on the site doubled to 40 per cent.

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