House builder Barratt has been ordered to double the proportion of affordable homes at a major development in north-west London as a condition of winning planning permission.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan halted the 462-home development in Mill Hill after learning that only 20% of the properties were affordable.
He told Barratt London that its offer of 92 homes earmarked for cash-strapped buyers — plus a £4.56 million contribution to affordable housing elsewhere — was inadequate.
Instead, he wants the proportion of affordable homes to make up 40% of the development – equivalent to 185 homes.
“Delivering more of the genuinely affordable homes Londoners need is one of my top priorities as Mayor, and I will use all the tools at my disposal to do so,” said Khan. “This development will offer a significant number of high-quality homes available through shared ownership. I have also been able to secure new homes at social rent levels.”
He has also called for 119 trees which would have been felled to be retained and for an additional 91 new trees to be planted.
Khan stepped in after Barnet council refused permission in February for the development, which is on the former HQ of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), against the advice of its own planning officers.
The Mayor said he wanted to ensure the decision was in accordance with the housing output described in the London Plan.
The website for the Mill Hill development states that in addition to high-quality homes, the 19-hectare site will feature co-working space and a café.
“We plan to do this in a way that is sensitive to the local environment, while opening up views and public access to the Totteridge Valley,” Barratt London said.
A number of sports pitches previously in private hands will be transferred to the local council for community use.
Khan has made the development of affordable homes in London one of his top priorities.
Earlier this year he spoke of his anger after developers at Battersea Power Station proposed to slash the amount of low-cost housing for young Londoners.
In the first few months of being Mayor, he recruited a team of experts to scrutinise developers’ use of “viability studies” as a way of cutting the number of affordable homes.
And in September, he rejected amendments to plans to redevelop the former headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, which would have lowered the overall proportion of affordable homes.
The move is another blow for Barratt, which recently had to withdraw from a £6 billion development project in Enfield following a disagreement with the local authority over terms.
Its proposed bid for the Meridian Water development was deemed to be a “poor deal for the residents and businesses of Enfield”, according to the council.
Earlier this year, Barratt Developments was embroiled in a corruption scandal after staff were accused of adopting bias when awarding contracts for new housing developments.
DealMakerz thinks the Mayor’s decision to halt the development is another sign of his determination to increase the number of homes for young, cash-strapped Londoners.
It also shows how much power Khan has over the decisions made by house builders and councils.
The Mayor wants to solve London’s housing crisis and it looks like he’ll go to great lengths to achieve this ambition.