Developer slammed over ‘inelegant’ Brimsdown tower plan

Councillors defer decision on 21-storey tower amid concern it breaches numerous planning policies, reports James Cracknell

The plans for a 21-storey next to Brimsdown Station (credit Yen of London Ltd)
The plans for the 21-storey tower next to Brimsdown Station (credit Yen of London Ltd)

A decision on a proposed 21-storey tower block next to Brimsdown Station has been deferred after planning committee members were given twelve reasons why it shouldn’t win permission.

The redevelopment of The Station Tavern pub in Green Street, which has been closed for five years, would include 100 flats, of which 40% would be classed ‘affordable’ and more than half would be family-sized, three-bed units. Eight offices, three shops and two restaurants also feature in the plans.

But at a committee hearing this week an Enfield Council planning officer reeled off a long list of reasons why the so-called “Tepe Tower” should be rejected, several of which he described as “fundamental” – adding that the developer had failed to provide details of what type of affordable housing would be provided, undermining the scheme’s “single benefit”.

Among the reasons listed for refusal in a planning report were that the tower had an “unsympathetic architectural approach” constituting an “inelegant” and “gross overdevelopment” of the site; that it would intrude on neighbours’ privacy; had no fire strategy; had no “adequate” sustainable drainage strategy despite being in a flood zone; failed to provide a legal agreement to “secure policy-compliant contributions”; omitted an inclusive design statement and therefore breached multiple planning policies; and didn’t provide either enough parking spaces nor enough children’s play space.

Salvio Daniele, acting on behalf of developer Yen of London Ltd, told the meeting: “This project from the start has been a challenging opportunity to contribute to the area and benefit the community. It is something our client feels strongly about.

“By providing the many services such as flexible retail and commercial space our client expects the scheme to become a catalyst to improve the area. Anyone would agree the area needs to be regenerated.”

Salvio added the scheme would provide “hundreds” of local jobs and insisted it was “compliant with all fire regulations”.

There was further support for Tepe Tower expressed at the meeting by two local residents. Cynthia Otseh-Taiwo said: “The pub is an eyesore at the moment […] I believe this project will bring a new lease of life to the area and will create more affordable housing for young people like me who are trying to move out of their mum’s house.”

Another Brimsdown resident, Dylan Mitchel, said: “The application will bring a lot of benefits in terms of jobs, homes and retail space for local people.”

However, planning committee members expressed their frustration the scheme had even been brought before them. Significant issues are typically addressed in the pre-application stage when developers discuss their plans with council officials, and councillors demanded to know what talks had taken place.

Planning officer Gideon Whittingham said talks started in 2019 and that the developer had since reduced the scale of the tower from 24 to 21 storeys. However, Gideon said officers “did not consider the issues had been addressed” and that “we have been minded to refuse the application for some time”. He added that the council was “willing to work with the applicant” but at present “found the scheme too deficient”.

Labour’s Doug Taylor responded: “I can’t understand how a pre-application process begun in 2019 could end with these reasons for refusal being made, which are more comprehensive than I have ever witnessed.”

The debate among committee members took an unexpected turn, however, when Bektas Ozer proposed a motion to approve the plans. Cllr Ozer is not a regular committee member but had been substituted on to the committee temporarily, in the absence of Gunes Akbulut. He was newly-elected in May to represent Brimsdown.

Cllr Ozer said: “As a representative of Brimsdown, I am quite excited by it. My view is, if the ambiguity over the affordable housing tenures can be resolved, then that benefit would outweigh the twelve shortcomings.

“We need a vibrant Brimsdown and this development meets this need.”

The motion prompted one of the council’s legal advisors to step in, saying it was not possible to table a motion to approve the application until multiple issues had been addressed and warned councillors not to “blindly go into it”. Gideon also warned: “The reasons for refusal are fundamental. It is not possible to mitigate them.”

Cllr Ozer subsequently withdrew his motion and proposed instead that the application be deferred, allowing the developer time to provide further information on its affordable housing offer, as well as strategies for dealing with fires and flood risk, and giving council officers time to draw up reasons why the application could be approved.

The deferral motion was approved unanimously and planning officers agreed to have a fresh report on the application ready to consider by October.

A separate 16-storey scheme proposed by a different developer was approved for another site in Green Street last year.

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