Councillors forced to debate plans a second time despite previous rejection, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
Councillors had to reconsider a planning application that was turned down months earlier because Enfield Council missed a key housing target.
Planning chiefs admitted the only reason the plans were being re-examined was because of the council’s failure to meet the government’s housing delivery test meant councillors had to apply a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.
This means proposals should be approved “unless the adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”, according to national planning policy.
It led one councillor to claim granting permission would mean having to reconsider a raft of applications that had already been rejected.
The plan for six flats in two buildings at 124 Old Park Ridings, in Grange Park, came before a meeting of the planning committee on Tuesday. A previous application to build one house and a separate building containing three flats at the site was approved in 2017.
The developer wanted to turn the house into three more flats, but in August last year, a bid to do so was turned down because it was judged to be an overdevelopment and would result in “substandard accommodation” because of a lack of private amenity space.
When these plans came back to Tuesday’s meeting, two residents spoke against them. One of the residents claimed changes to previously approved plans would affect his privacy.
He said photos of the plans being used by builders showed the homes were being “built as blocks of flats from day one”, and a lift overrun that had already been constructed was not part of approved plans.
Speaking in favour of the scheme, Simon Warner, director at Warner Planning, said: “The proposal will be a high-quality residential development which is of a scale and form to reflect the street scene and seek to use high-quality materials. The proposal provides a net increase of two much-needed homes.”
He said the applicant, West One Loans, was the receiver of the site “following the unfortunate failure of the previous owners, who have gone into receivership”.
Under questioning from councillors, planning officer David Gittens said an enforcement notice served on the lift overrun meant work on that must cease – but this did not prevent other work on the buildings from continuing.
Andy Higham, the council’s head of development management, said: “This is a resubmission. It is the same scheme members saw previously and determined.
“The question here is about the weighting we now need to apply in light of the presumption in favour. That is a material change that we now have to give weight to. It means planning permission should be granted unless any adverse effects would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework].
“When we assess the scheme, we believe the benefits of the two additional units would significantly and demonstrably outweigh any harm that is associated with it.”
Committee member Daniel Anderson, a Community First councillor, said: “If this is granted, it means all previous applications that were rejected could all be brought back on similar grounds – and the planning committee would be open to having to reconsider a number of developments which were refused because the conditions have changed.
“I think that is a very dangerous argument.”
Following the debate, officers’ recommendation to approve was rejected by the committee. Councillors then voted to refuse permission on the same basis as the previous refusal, after taking into account the policy change.