Developer seeks to reduce family-sized affordable homes

Bellway Homes now wants to offer smaller shared ownership units in its redevelopment of Royal Chace Hotel, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The plans for new homes on the site of the now-closed Royal Chace Hotel, where construction has already started (credit Bellway Homes)
The plans for new homes on the site of the now-closed Royal Chace Hotel (credit Bellway Homes)

Plans to reduce the number of affordable family-sized homes planned for a redevelopment scheme have been submitted to Enfield Council.

Developer Bellway Homes wants to remove eight three-bedroom shared-ownership affordable homes from its redevelopment of the former Royal Chace Hotel and offer one and two-bedroom units at the shared ownership tenure instead.

The developer claims the move comes in response to “changing market conditions” and would “allow more first-time buyers to get on the property ladder”.

Bellway won permission to redevelop Royal Chace Hotel, in The Ridgeway, to provide a care home and 64 residential units in May this year. Work to demolish the hotel began last month.

The developer initially planned to build 41 homes for private sale, 15 for affordable rent and eight for shared ownership – a scheme which allows buyers to purchase a share of the freehold and pay rent on the remainder. The eight shared-ownership units were set to be three-bedroom houses.

But in an amendment submitted to the approved planning permission, Bellway now proposes to sell these eight units at market rates. If the change is approved, four one-bedroom flats and seven two-bedroom flats previously intended for private sale would instead be offered for shared ownership.

The planning amendment states that the change to the affordable housing mix has been proposed because registered social housing providers “are concerned about acquiring three-bed shared ownership units due to the current difficulties facing the housing market from rising mortgage rates”.

It adds: “The three-bed units are seen as a relatively expensive product that is difficult to market in the prevailing market conditions and the RP’s [registered providers] are seeking to concentrate on smaller starter homes, in particular one and two-bed flats, which have a lower market value and are considered to be a more marketable product to sell.”

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The document goes on to say that the change would be “a benefit in that the number of affordable housing units will increase overall from 23 to 26 and this will be 40% of units”.

But local housing campaign group Better Homes Enfield said in a statement that shared ownership was not in its view a truly affordable type of housing tenure and added: “We recognise that shared ownership can be a useful way for some first-time buyers to get on the property ladder. However, Better Homes Enfield do not consider it to be a tenure that helps key worker households in need of affordable family housing.

“This is because the monthly outgoings for shared ownership are often as high, and sometimes higher, than the private market options, and are unaffordable for key worker families. In our opinion, shared ownership should be classified as a type of private market housing, not as an affordable housing tenure.

“The evidence shows that Enfield desperately needs more genuinely affordable housing options for key worker and lower-paid households, such as London Living Rent, but this is not being built or even properly planned for in Enfield at anything like the scale needed.”

Bellway Homes said in a statement: “The proposed changes to amend the housing mix on the designs is due to changing marketing conditions. The amendments are only being proposed to shared ownership homes on the development. These changes will allow more first-time buyers to get on the property ladder as we are proposing to build more affordable homes on the development.

“Our plans for the larger family homes on the development remain in line with the original planning permission.”

The proposed amendment can be viewed by visiting the council’s planning portal and entering reference 22/03700/VAR.

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