Barnet gives green light to council estate redevelopment

A north London council has given the go-ahead to plans to redevelop part of its largest council estate, despite an objection from mayor Sadiq Khan about a 'wholly unacceptable' loss of social housing.

A visualisation of the finished development
A visualisation of the finished development

The London Borough of Barnet's planning committee last night approved Genesis Housing’s outline application proposing the regeneration of the Grahame Park council estate.

According to the committee report, 630 homes would be demolished alongside a GP Practice, community hall and library. In their place, 1,083 new homes would be built, plus a community and health centre and shops. 

The new development would comprise 652 affordable homes – a level of 60 per cent – of which 39 would be for social rent and 153 for London affordable rent.

Grahame Park is the borough’s largest housing estate, the report says, but "suffers from a number of socio-economic and physical problems". In 2003, residents "voted in favour of a full regeneration of the estate" with a new masterplan permitted in 2004, the report says. 

However, a submission by the Greater London Authority (GLA) sent to the council in September, states that the redevelopment would involve the net loss of of 518 social rented homes compared to the current number of 557.  

It states: "The loss of social rented units is wholly unacceptable. The initial viability assessment demonstrates that more social rented units could be provided."

It went on to say that GLA officers will "work with the applicant and the council" to ensure that the plan "accords fully" with the London Plan and other mayoral policies.

But according to the committee report, the council says that, of these 557 affordable homes, 39 are "occupied by secure tenants and the remainder are either vacant, or housing non secured tenants or guardians". It states: "The 39 social rented units are effectively being provided on a like-for-like replacement for existing secured tenants."

The council goes on to say that, following "detailed discussions" between the GLA, Barnet Council and Genesis Housing, the concerns have been "broadly resolved and officers are satisfied that any minor outstanding matters can be resolved".

According to the document, "all parties agree that London Affordable Rent should be counted as social rent for the purposes of calculating reprovision".

It adds: "Agreement has also been reached that the scheme viability is already stretched and that additional grant funding from the GLA and the HCA is not available."

The only way that more London Affordable Rented Units could be provided "would be to increase the density of the scheme to provide additional private units".

But the council said this approach "is not seen as desirable" because "the whole point of redeveloping the estate is to improve the environment of the estate and to build a mixed and balanced community".

The first phase of the estate’s redevelopment has seen 685 new homes delivered, the report says, of which 52 per cent are affordable, including 235 for social rent.

The planning report can be found here.


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