Estate redevelopment fails social housing policy test

Inadequate affordable housing provision has led the secretary of state to dismiss mixed-use redevelopment of an early 20th century social housing estate in west London.

The proposal included 343 new homes along with community, retail and office space. During the inquiry, the appellants  submitted a revised scheme to address the council’s concerns over affordable housing provision. The secretary of state agreed with his inspector that, under the Wheatcroft principles, the revised scheme could not be considered because not all statutory and non-statutory parties had had a chance to address its implications.

He agreed with his inspector that the appeal scheme failed to satisfy the "no net loss of social housing" approach set out in adopted local and emerging London Plan policies, largely for reasons related to the way in which existing vacant social housing units in some blocks on the estate had been removed from the calculations for new provision. The appellants justified this approach on the basis that these units were not currently in use as social rented housing and, being unfettered, could be used for market housing. 

The inspector opined that increasing vacancies are a common manifestation of estate renewal and the appellants’ choice not to commit expenditure on improvements did not provide a sound planning reason for discounting existing social rented floorspace. In his view, adopting this approach would provide an incentive for landlords to run down estates to reduce their obligations under social housing replacement policy requirements.

The secretary of state agreed, stating that vacation of a property by a registered social housing provider as a preliminary step towards estate renewal cannot reasonably be a basis for disregarding that floorspace for policy purposes. A greater amount of affordable housing would need to be provided in order to comply with planning policy requirements, he concluded.

Inspector: Phillip Ware; Inquiry

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