Wednesday 11 October 2017

Brent Council agrees 7.5% 'affordable' housing for Heron House development

Views of proposed development - current building outlined in red

Brent Planning Officers have recommended approval of the Heron House development at 109-115 Wembley Hill Road despite it offering only 7.5% 'affordable housing' and opposition from local residents.The development will have 40 housing units: 23 one bedroom, 7 2 bedrooms and 10 3 bedrooms of which only three are designated as affordable.

On the affordable housing issue officers' report (my emphasis highlighted):
London Plan Policy 3.12 requires boroughs to seek the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing, having regard to a number of factors including development viability. Core Strategy Policy CP2 sets a strategic target that 50% of new homes delivered in the borough should be affordable. Policy DMP15 reinforces this target and specifies that 70% of new affordable housing across the Borough should be social/affordable rented housing and 30% intermediate housing. However, this tenure mix can be varied on individual developments where this is justified by the viability of the scheme and other site-specific characteristics. Objections have been received regarding the level and tenure mix of Affordable housing. 

A total of three affordable homes are proposed, all 3bed Intermediate Shared Ownership units. This represents 7.5% of the development if calculated by unit or 13.3% by habitable room. The use of habitable rooms as a measure of affordable housing provision is typically considered to be appropriate as it gives weight to the provision of family sized affordable homes for which there is a significant identified need within the borough. 

The applicant submitted a Financial Viability Assessment (FVA) to support the application. This has been assessed by consultants on behalf of the Council. The FVA demonstrates that the scheme would generate a land value £1.48mbelow the benchmark land value for the site. Sensitivity analysis was undertaken by the Council’s consultants to assess the impact on viability of a scheme which also included Affordable Rented homes. This showed that including a 50/50 split between Affordable Rented and Intermediate housing units (as opposed to the current proposal including only intermediate housing) would generate an even greater deficit of £1.78m below benchmark land value. As such, the inclusion of Affordable Rented units is not considered to be viable in this instance, and consequently the proposal for only Intermediate Shared Ownership is acceptable within the terms of Policy DMP15. Given the existing use value of the site and high construction costs associated with the basement construction and ground level changes, the proposed scheme cannot support more than the proposed level of Affordable housing. 

It appears that the CP2 and DMP15 targets are now meaningless,

15 residents attended the consultation about the scheme, 20 have objected and 42 signed a petition against it.  As is usual (except in Cllr Sheth's and Butts' intervention in the Spurs-Wembley Stadium application) councillors for Tokyngton ward, in which the development is situated, made no comment on the application.

Many objections were about the development of 2-6 storeys being out of keeping with the two storey suburban houses in the neighbouring area and the compact houses in the High Street (not High Road) Conservation area. There was a wider comment that the area was becoming a 'concrete jungle'.

The application is on the agenda for the October 18th meeting of the Planning Committee LINK

For those unsure of the difference between the High Road Wembley and Wembley High Street this is a picture of High Street:

From Brent Council Wembley High Street Conservation Area Appraisal LINK



Philip Grant said...

Perhaps members of the Planning Committee (and the Council's Planning Officers) should remind themselves what the Brent Position Statement on Affordable Housing in New Developments (approved by the Committee on 14 October 2015) says. They can read it at:

Here are a few quotations from that document:
'Brent has a significant need for affordable housing.'

'Brent’s Core Strategy policy CP2 Population and Housing Growth identifies an overall affordable housing target of 50% of additional dwellings. Consistent with this policy, subject to viability, developments of 10 dwellings or more will be required to provide the maximum amount of affordable housing.'

'Notwithstanding the detailed advice provided in the Housing SPG, Brent places great significance on the following aspects in particular when determining planning applications related to housing. These are that the affordable housing proposed:
a) meets priority borough needs,
b) is designed to a high standard and tenure blind,
c) is shown to be the maximum amount that can be achieved.'

'... due to the relatively high level of low income households, the priority need in Brent is for affordable housing at rents well below market levels (social and affordable rented). Affordable home ownership and other forms of intermediate affordable housing such as discounted market rents is also a priority as part of a balanced housing offer. Nevertheless in Brent it is less of a priority than social/affordable rented properties. Consequently to best meet needs the Council seeks a
70/30 social or affordable rent/shared ownership or intermediate housing split.'

'Applicants also have a duty to maximise affordable housing. They should address the issue of affordable housing and show how they are consistent with development plan policy and the Housing SPG within the Design and Access and Planning statements submitted within applications. These should give clear rationale/justification to the amount, size, design,
location and tenure of the affordable housing proposed ...'

'Developments proposing less than 50% affordable housing will need to be accompanied by an affordable housing viability assessment when seeking to register a planning application.'

'In the interests of transparency of decision making, the Council will seek to ensure that as much of any assessment submitted should be available for wider scrutiny by the public.'

'An executive summary should outline the main findings in an easily understandable way to make the information more understandable to the general public and decision makers.'

If the Council's own "position statement" on affordable housing has not been complied with, then Planning Committee should not approve this application.


Anonymous said...

Clearly no one on the planning committee or the officers give a good god damn about Housing Policy or the buls**t there PR machine puts out to the general public or scrutiny committee. It would seem they just do what they like and are not accountable to anyone.

Martin Francis said...

Jaine Lunn comments: I will definitely try to attend and in the meantime get on to Tokynton councillors. This is particularly disturbing as of where it is located amongst low rise and the oldest little high street in the borough. So much for bidding for culture city nonesense. The work at Brent House development is causing a massive amount of chaos. The traffic management plan is bloody useless. We have HGV's parked on both sides of the high road, and in the bus lane, on the pavements, last week I had 3 parked in my street, on the pavement engines running idling for over 30 minutes at a time. The footprint of the site is so small, they have a huge crane, piling thing, and a minimum of 20 lorries a day picking up rubbish and delivering plant and cement. When Chesterfield House gets going God knows how the high road is going to cope. As I stated before 8 sites within 500 metres of my house. The dust and pollution is so bad I cannot open the windows.