Mayor uses planning powers to increase affordable housing in Wandsworth

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today used his planning powers to boost significantly the number of genuinely affordable homes being delivered on a new housing development in Wandsworth.

The Mayor intervened after Wandsworth Council refused permission for the development of the site of a current Homebase store in Swandon Way in April this year, due to the height and scale of the development, and its proximity to a nearby conversation area. The development included just 23 per cent affordable housing, or 84 of the 348 homes in the scheme.

The Mayor used his planning powers to ‘call in’ the development and has achieved an increase in the level of affordable housing to 35 per cent – meaning 136 of the 385 homes in the approved plans will be affordable.

The delivery of affordable homes has also been brought forward, with 55 per cent arriving in the first phase – all of which would have been built much later under the previous plans.

The Mayor has agreed a review mechanism, which could see affordable housing increase to as much as 50 per cent if an agreed level of progress is not made on the development within two years.

The developer will contribute £2.5 million towards a new entrance to nearby Wandsworth Town station. The plans also include substantial cycle parking, retail and commercial units, and improvements to public spaces.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“I’ve made it clear I am committed to increasing the delivery of genuinely affordable housing in London, especially given the pitiful legacy I inherited, and I will use my full range of planning powers to achieve this.

“This development offers a significant number of high-quality homes in a location which offers great transport links and local amenities. We have confirmed more than half of the affordable homes will be delivered up front in the first stage of construction.

“I’m also really pleased we have secured a review mechanism which could increase the level of affordable housing further – and that people who live and work in the area will benefit from a significant upgrade to Wandsworth Town Station.”

This is the second time in two weeks that the Mayor used his planning powers to their fullest extent. Earlier this month, he approved plans for 185 affordable homes in Mill Hill after intervening to double the amount of affordable homes to 40 per cent.

The four developments he has ‘called in’ since taking office have achieved an average of 37 per cent affordable housing. Recent figures from London First show affordable housing across all approved planning applications in London rose to 30 per cent in the first half of this year – more than double the low of 13 per cent seen toward the end of the of the previous Mayor’s terms of office.

Shortly after becoming Mayor, Sadiq recruited a team of planning experts to scrutinise developers’ use of ‘viability studies’ to cut affordable housing and earlier this year, he published his Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG), offering a surer, quicker route through the planning process for developments with least 35 per cent affordable housing – both steps underlining his tough approach to housing delivery.