Estate expansion put on hold

The Alma Estate in Ponders End is in the middle of being rebuilt
Alma Estate in Ponders End is in the middle of being rebuilt

Report by Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

A bid to increase the size of a major estate redevelopment has been put on hold because of concerns over the impact on neighbours and a lack of outdoor space.

Countryside Properties, which is regenerating the Alma Estate in Ponders End, applied to add 93 extra homes to two upcoming phases of the scheme by increasing the heights of several blocks. It would have boosted the number of homes on the two phases from 993 in a previously approved version of the development to 1,086.

Enfield Council planning chiefs recommended the amended scheme for approval – partly because it would help to meet the borough’s housing targets, which have recently been revised upwards to more than 12,000 new units over a ten-year period. But at a meeting of Enfield’s planning committee last week, councillors deferred the application for a second time after claiming the developer had failed to address the concerns raised during a meeting in April.

John Williams, who lives in Alma Road, told the committee he was “extremely disappointed” the applicant had come back with “the same proposals again”. He said: “I do feel this demonstrates a certain level of arrogance and even contempt for local residents and members of the committee themselves.

“The proposed phase four of the development is unacceptable because of the excessive height and massing, which will cause unacceptable increases in overlooking, overshadowing and loss of light to neighbouring properties.”

Ponders End councillor Doug Taylor said the extra homes would intensify the usage of a park, yet the developer had made “no attempt” to make reference to the impact of Covid-19, which had shown “that people without their own outdoor space do need extra communal space”.

But the developer’s agent, Greg Blaquiere, denied the claim that committee members and residents had not been listened to. He said the developer had undertaken assessments to gauge the impact of overshadowing on neighbouring properties – and these had shown only “marginal” differences compared to the earlier application.

Greg added: “While there will be isolated, noticeable reductions in some instances, in each case the retained daylight levels would be very good for a suburban location and should be considered acceptable.”

The agent said the landscape design had been reviewed “and the community park now includes play and fitness features for all ages”.

Under questioning from committee members, planning officers said an increase in overshadowing of up to two hours per day for some neighbouring properties was in comparison to the current buildings on the site – not the previously approved application.

Planning decisions manager Sharon Davidson pointed out some housing blocks would have to be made taller to avoid building on more of the open space.

Andy Higham, the council’s head of development management, said officers were allowed to use “flexibility” when applying national guidelines on daylight and sunlight levels as these “are not absolute, they are advisory”.

But committee members said they felt the developer had failed to address their concerns following the previous deferral.

Raising several objections – including the impact on existing properties and concerns about open space – a majority of members voted to defer the scheme again to allow the developer to amend its proposals.