Casebook: Appeal Cases - Housing: New Build - Flats survive affordability and amenity concerns

The redevelopment of a site in south London to create 72 flats has been approved after an inspector decided that it would make sufficient provision for affordable housing, private amenity space and public art and tackle a deficiency in open space provision.

The developer proposed an affordable housing element equivalent to 37.5 per cent of the apartments and 42 per cent of the habitable rooms. Although the council contended that the site was subject to a 50 per cent affordable housing requirement, the inspector did not find that this was borne out in policy. He accepted that redevelopment would incur additional costs arising from the demolition of buildings and hardstandings and the clearing of contamination left by previous uses.

He observed that the development as a whole would have limited private amenity space and six flats would have none at all. However, he noted that all but one of the six would have a single bedroom and so would be unlikely to accommodate families. A central courtyard would provide some visual amenity even though it would also be used by delivery vehicles, he added. He reasoned that prospective residents would be aware of the position.

The inspector did not consider that the council had demonstrated that its request for a contribution to public art would be directly related to the proposed development or reasonable in other respects. He took the view that it would be better to use the funds to improve the quality of design and amenity within the development.

He took into account a unilateral undertaking offering the contribution to open space provision sought by the council. The improvement in facilities would help to make up for the limited amount of amenity space in the development, he held. Although the contribution was intended to provide or improve facilities in nearby recreational open space, he suggested that it should be interpreted flexibly to create open space in a nearby town centre.

DCS No: 100039107; Inspector: Andrew Newman; Inquiry.

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