Go-ahead for 100% affordable homes scheme in Enfield Highway

Councillors had refused previous version of the scheme but new design said to “positively address” concerns, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Designs for the Moorfield Road development (credit HTA Design LLP)
Designs for the Moorfield Road development (credit HTA Design LLP)

Plans for a 100% affordable development in Enfield Highway have been approved as the council urgently seeks to boost the supply of homes.

Developer Social Capital Partners has won permission to build a twelve-storey block in Moorfield Road that will provide 100 homes for social rent, set at around 60% of market rates.

Its previous plans to demolish the disused two-storey Moorfield Family Centre and build a nine-storey block were refused in March last year on grounds that it would be an overdevelopment, block light from neighbours’ homes and add to congestion.

Since then, the design has been changed significantly to reduce the impact on neighbours and make it more in keeping with the character of the area.

Planning reports cited the “pressing need” for affordable housing and the borough’s “extremely challenging” ten-year housing delivery target of more than 12,400 homes as reasons to approve the scheme.

The council has repeatedly failed to meet its annual housebuilding targets – meaning it must give more weight to new housing schemes – and now faces an acute homelessness crisis caused partly by the collapse of the private rented sector.

Another 100% affordable scheme by the same developer was approved for Fore Street, Angel Edmonton, earlier this month, following three previous rejections. Planners urged councillors to approve that tower block for similar reasons.

The Moorfield Road scheme was presented to a meeting of the council’s planning committee on Tuesday (19th).

Kathryn Williams, of independent planning consultant Kew Planning, which was appointed by council officers to deal with the application, told the committee that the previous reasons for refusal had been “positively addressed” and the new design was “a welcome improvement on the previous [proposed] monolithic nine-storey block”.

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Kathryn said daylight and sunlight levels and overshadowing were now “acceptable” because the building would be divided into three separate blocks of three, eight and twelve storeys, with the smaller blocks situated closer to neighbouring homes. The building would also be positioned further away from neighbours, she added.

The committee heard the scheme would no longer be “overbearing” and the darker brickwork would be similar to local landmark buildings such as the Carnegie library in Hertford Road, now in use as council offices.

Despite the changes, the council’s urban design chief did not support the eight and twelve-storey block heights. But Kathryn said officers considered the building “would not look out-of-place in long-distance views” considering the presence of 14-storey Hastings House nearby, and the height was considered acceptable given the shift in the planning balance to approve new homes.

The planning committee report also revealed the Metropolitan Police did not support the scheme and warned it “may increase the opportunity for crime and antisocial behaviour” in the area.

When the committee raised concerns about this – with Labour’s Eylem Yuruk proposing deferring a decision until extra safety measures were put in place – officers assured them there would be further consultation with the police to ensure they were satisfied with the proposals.

Conservative committee member Lee Chamberlain said he had not heard anything to convince him that the twelve-storey block was “not too much” for the area.

Kathryn responded that the site was “highly constrained” and the scheme had been designed to protect neighbours by introducing the lower-rise elements. She added that the area was “quite urban in character” and “right on the edge of the local centre” of Enfield Highway and officers considered the development “acceptable”.

Following the debate, seven Labour councillors plus Conservative Peter Fallart voted to approve the scheme. The three remaining Tories voted against, and Cllr Yuruk abstained.

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