Fresh plans for empty Enfield Highway site approved despite affordable homes shortfall

Developer increases density of planned scheme on site of demolished pub in Hertford Road, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Plans for the 38-home scheme in Hertford Road, Enfield Highway
Plans for the 38-home scheme in Hertford Road, Enfield Highway (credit 3D Reid)

Plans to build 38 flats on the site of a former Enfield Highway pub have been approved despite failing to meet an affordable homes target.

Developer White Gold Properties has won permission to build a six-storey block at 179 Hertford Road – a site that has stood empty since the demolition of The Black Horse public house in 2017.

The same developer won permission to build a smaller, five-storey development at the same site in 2019 but the larger scheme, approved during a meeting of the council’s planning committee on Tuesday (7th), will provide 13 extra flats, two commercial units on the ground floor and 14 parking spaces.

During the committee meeting, councillors repeatedly raised concerns over the plans to provide only eleven affordable homes. Making up 29% of the whole development, the affordable housing level is significantly below Enfield Council’s target of 40%.

Council planning officers said an assessment had shown providing more affordable homes was not financially viable.

Andy Higham, the council’s head of development management, told councillors the overall number of units had been increased because the previously-approved scheme was no longer viable, but higher costs meant there could not be a “commensurate increase in affordable housing units”.

He pointed out that council policies allow for a lower level of affordable homes providing it is supported by a financial viability assessment from the developer. Officers also wrote in their planning report that the level of affordable housing would be reviewed at later stages to determine if more could be provided.

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Under questioning from Labour’s Doug Taylor, Andy said officers aimed to carry out a “late-stage review” but admitted he could only think of “one scheme where we have had those discussions”, as the housing market had “not been as buoyant as we would like” in recent years. However, he said it was “good practice” to have a review mechanism in place.

Conservative Mike Rye asked officers if a traffic and parking survey had been carried out in neighbouring roads after the planning report stated that surrounding streets could experience additional parking pressure.

David Taylor, the council’s head of traffic and transport, said a survey had not been carried out, but other studies had indicated that in a worst-case scenario “five or so vehicles could spill out of the site” and this could be “absorbed within the area”. He added that there were “no live plans to introduce a controlled parking zone in that area at the moment”.

Conservative Lee Chamberlain said the development would be “considerably larger than the buildings around it” and “at least a storey larger” than he would have liked to have seen.

In response, officers said the top storey had been set back from the front and the sides of the block, and the scheme would use “high-quality materials”. They added that there were “a lot of positive elements” to the proposals.

Planning bosses agreed to add a condition to the approval to ensure a groundwater flood risk assessment is carried out. Following the debate, councillors voted unanimously to approve the scheme.

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