Khan intervenes over council's 'consistent failure' to meet homes target

London mayor Sadiq Khan has called in plans for a mixed-use scheme in west London, citing the local planning authority's 'consistent failure' to meet housing targets.

Newcombe House (pic: Steve Reed via Flickr)
Newcombe House (pic: Steve Reed via Flickr)

Last night’s decision to intervene in the application to redevelop the site of the 12-storey, 1960s-built Newcombe House in Notting Hill Gate followed the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s resolution at the end of January to refuse permission for the scheme for the third time.

Developer Notting Hill Gate KCS’s proposals include commercial space, 46 new homes, including nine social rented units, a doctors’ surgery, a public square and step-free access to the local tube station. The development would be spread over six buildings, ranging from two to 17 storeys.

Kensington and Chelsea Council resolved to refuse the application out of concern over the tall tower’s "insufficient" design quality, its impact on the setting of nearby listed buildings and conservation areas and its effect on local views.

The council also said that, while the scheme would create "slightly more affordable housing floorspace than currently exists", it would result in the loss of existing social rented housing at the site.

It said it was not satisfied that the scheme provides the "maximum reasonable amount" of affordable housing.

In a letter informing the council of his decision to intervene, Khan wrote: "I recognise that while Kensington and Chelsea Council has taken a positive approach to approving new homes during the last four years, it is currently significantly underdelivering against its annualised housing completion targets and the borough’s affordable housing targets."

Justifying his call-in decision, Khan also said that the Newcombe House redevelopment "has the potential to make an important contribution to the delivery of an accessible and inclusive underground and rail transport network" and to the "vitality of the town centre".

A Greater London Authority spokesman said the application will now be subjected to further scrutiny by City Hall planners before a public hearing later in the year, after which the mayor will make his decision.

Khan said: "The number of homes in this development won’t reverse the chronic underdelivery of new and affordable housing in the borough, but I’m calling this application in to determine whether those homes it could deliver and the other public benefits outweigh the reasons the council gave for refusal. I have also asked my planners to work with the applicant to see if more genuinely affordable homes can be delivered."

Khan noted that, in 2016/17, Kensington and Chelsea Council granted planning permission for only 17 affordable homes. He said that in the four years from 2013 to 2017, the borough approved 332 affordable homes, against a London Plan target of 986.

Concerns over the loss of existing on-site affordable housing led to refusal on appeal of a previous application for the site last June

A spokesman for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea said that the council would not be commenting due to the pre-local election purdah period. 

Since taking office in 2016, Khan had previously called in five planning applications under article 7 of the Mayor of London Order 2008. The first involved redevelopment plans for the Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, later remitted to Merton Council for a decision.

Last year, Khan called in applications involving schemes at Palmerston Road in Wealdstone, Hale Wharf in Haringey, Swandon Way in Wandsworth and the former National Institute for Medical Research site in Barnet.

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