Affordable housing scheme rejected for being ‘ugly’

Councillors debating Fore Street scheme for third time remain unconvinced, reports James Cracknell

The 18-storey development in Fore Street would provide 114 homes available at London Affordable Rent levels (credit HTA Design LLP)
The 18-storey development in Fore Street would provide 110 homes available at London Affordable Rent levels (credit HTA Design LLP)

An Edmonton tower block with 100% of its homes designated for affordable housing has been rejected after councillors slammed the scheme as “monolithic”.

Enfield Council’s planning committee debated the plans to redevelop The Gilpin’s Bell pub in Fore Street, Angel Edmonton, for a third time in as many months on Tuesday night. It came after the developer made changes to its original plans in response to earlier criticisms about a lack of family-sized homes.

Social Capital Partners increased the number of three-bed flats in the development from 14 to 22, meaning the total number of flats had to be reduced from 113 to 110. But the boost in family-sized homes was not enough to convince councillors that the scheme’s contribution to solving Enfield’s housing crisis outweighed the “ugly” 18-storey tower block’s impact on nearby Fore Street Edmonton Conservation Area.

Mike Rye, a Conservative member of the planning committee, said: “The height [of the tower block] does damage to the area. Residents have said they fear it looms over the street.”

Maria Alexandrou, a fellow Tory councillor, said she thought the scheme was “over-development”, while independent member Derek Levy said the increase in family-sized flats was “a move in the right direction – but not enough”.

Cllr Levy added: “It it quite monolithic.”

A council heritage officer who attended the meeting said the conservation area that lies next to the development site was “at risk” and that his team were “extremely concerned” about its future. Although there were other tall buildings in the area, including some on the Haringey side of the borough border which reached 22 storeys, he said he believed the 18-storey height proposed was “inappropriate”.

Labour’s Kate Anolue said the building was “monstrous” and Jim Steven, a Tory committee member, said The Gilpin’s Bell was heavily used by Tottenham Hotspur fans on matchdays and would be missed, adding the tower block was “too tall – and ugly”.

A new pub unit to replace The Gilpin’s Bell was proposed as part of the scheme, which had benefited from a Greater London Authority grant to enable it to provide all of its homes at London Affordable Rent levels.

Despite planning officers recommending the scheme for approval, councillors rejected it over its “bulk mass and height”. Labour councillors Doug Taylor and Hass Yusuf abstained from the vote. The application will still need to be referred to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who may decide to call it in for his own determination.

Speaking after the meeting, Shane O’Neill from Social Capital Partners said: “We were astonished to see a policy compliant scheme refused at committee, given Enfield [Council] are under a ‘presumption in favour’ [of development].

“We will now seek determination elsewhere, where we believe the scheme will be fairly adjudicated on.”