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Council officers and City Hall beg Enfield planning committee to approve 100% social rent tower block

Latest report on the Fore Street scheme urges councillors to approve plan for 110 affordable homes as local housing crisis deepens, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The 18-storey development in Fore Street would provide 114 homes available at London Affordable Rent levels (credit HTA Design LLP)
The plans for 50 Fore Street and The Gilpin Bell (credit HTA Design LLP)

Councillors on Enfield’s planning committee are being urged to approve an 18-storey tower block with 100% social rent homes – given the “acute need” for low-cost housing in the borough.

Plans to redevelop The Gilpin’s Bell pub in Fore Street, Angel Edmonton, to provide 110 affordable homes are set to be presented to a meeting of Enfield Council’s planning committee next week. It will be the fourth time the scheme has been debated by councillors.

In January last year, the committee rejected developer Social Capital Partners’ previous plans for the site, ruling that their “bulk, mass and height” would harm Fore Street Conservation Area and other heritage assets. Councillors described the proposed scheme as “ugly” and “monolithic”.

Since then the borough has been plunged into an acute housing crisis, with hundreds of homeless families being forced to live in hotels for months because of the shortage of rental accommodation, as landlords hit by higher mortgage rates hike rents or sell their properties.

It comes on top of repeated failures to meet the borough’s annual homes targets, meaning Enfield Council must now give extra weight to new housing applications.

Council officers have written in their report to the upcoming planning committee meeting that the borough’s current circumstances represent a “material change requiring assessment prior to any final decision [on the development] being made”.

Although the mayor of London did not use his powers to intervene after the planning committee made its decision to reject the 100% affordable scheme last year, the Greater London Authority (GLA) has said the failure to provide the homes – which would “respond to London’s acute need for low-cost rental housing” – would “have an impact on the implementation of the London Plan”.

While the height of the scheme remains unchanged at 18 storeys, all of the 110 homes are now being offered at social rent levels, which are typically cheaper than the previously-proposed London Affordable Rent rate.

A second staircase has also been included in the designs to respond to changes in fire safety legislation.

Other aspects of the scheme, including plans to provide a replacement pub and four parking spaces for disabled residents, remain unchanged.

Last year’s meeting heard from a council heritage officer who said Fore Street Conservation Area, which lies next to the development site, was “at risk” and that his team were “extremely concerned” about its future.

Officers write in their report that the proposed public benefits would outweigh the “less than substantial harm” to heritage assets. They also claim that “optimising” brownfield sites helps to “minimise encroachment into the borough’s Green Belt”.

The report states that committee members could “give more weight” to the current housing circumstances, the number of proposed affordable units and how the development would help meet the need for homes.

The planning committee is due to meet at 7pm on Tuesday, 5th September at Enfield Civic Centre.