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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Developer of Flats Behind Langham Seeks Removal of Affordable Housing Requirement

Last year an Enfield-based developer was given planning permission to build a block of ten flats of a plot of land behind the Langham Club, fronting on to Colina Road.

Permission was granted on the condition that a £247,000 contribution was made towards affordable housing. 

This week's planning applications list shows that an application has now been made to have the affordable housing obligation removed. Here's what the new application says:

REAR OF 600 GREEN LANES, LONDON, N8 0RY VIABILITY ASSESSMENT/SECTION 106BA APPLICATION 

The Viability Assessment for the above scheme is attached. The DCLG has inserted Section 106BA, BB and BC into the Town and Country Planning Act (1990), as part of the Growth and Infrastructure Act (2013).

These sections enable an application and appeal procedure for the review of existing planning obligations which relate to the provision of affordable housing. 

The objective of the procedure is to bring back into development those sites that are currently stalled as a result of affordable housing obligations making those schemes unviable.

Annex B of the procedure set out timings for the determination of the application by the local authority and if required, for the Planning Inspectorate to issue a decision notice as part of written representations.

The Viability Assessment represents the application stage of the Section 106BA process and we would now anticipate a response from the London Borough of Haringey within 28 days of submission. I am available to respond to any queries raised which may be raised in relation to the submitted Viability Assessment. 

A question for those of you with more experience; was the original condition onerous and merely serving to delay much needed housing? Or was it a fair condition which should be staunchly defended to support the provision of much-needed affordable housing?

Links

Original application - hgyol.in/1Nth36P

New Application - hgyol.in/1USmn5X

Tags for Forum Posts: housing

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I note that the letter you quote above refers to an attached viability assessment, but this is not included on the planning application Ref HGY/2015/2356.   How is anyone meant to comment, as is our civic duty, if that assessment s not seen?  Is this a clerical error, or the result of more of the scandalous secret meetings that allow developers to set their own terms? 

The same week, application ref HGY/2015/2344  is seeking to change the original plan for part conversion of St Lukes Hospital to be for over 55's, into family housing.  What's behind this?

There have been several of these changed agreements lately, where a plan is allowed with S106 provision, the building gets built, then the developer decides that 'circumstances have changed' and they tear up the agreement and maximise their profit.  The council is not likely to demand demolition of the build, so they get away with it - if the developer is big enough.  If this was Joe Buggs building an illegal extension, they can be made to take it down.

I think that Eric Pickles change to "town & country planning" will result in a lot of retrospective planning applications. This development is for 9 flats, not 10 as stated above. Although developments of 10 flats or less are exempt from the need to contribute to the "affordable house fund", the council had the developer over a barrel and he had to promise to contribute £246,960 for affordable housing, £27,280 for education and £13,500 for highways. It seems a bit harsh to me as this will be passed on to the buyer so therefore even a first time buyer will end up paying about £27,000 each for someone else to get a house. Even then I don't see the council producing really affordable housing.

"It seems a bit harsh to me as this will be passed on to the buyer so therefore even a first time buyer will end up paying about £27,000 each for someone else to get a house. Even then I don't see the council producing really affordable housing."

Nonsense. I cannot imagine any developer reducing the price of a property because they have less costs against it. They are commercial enterprises and therefore will naturally seek the highest return at all times.

The thought of councils having developers over a barrel is also pretty far-fetched. These viability assessments are being used as standard practice by developers who agree to do whatever they need to in order to get permission to build, and then renege at a point further down the line, usually citing what are later revealed as outright lies about projected sale values.  Our weak councils cave in, paranoid that targets won't be met and funding sources will dry up.  From this type of small development to huge schemes like Neo Bankside, this abusive practice is rife and only goes to line the pockets of the wealthy developers and their investors.

One way to resolve this type of abuse would be to legally oblige developers to build the social housing before or at the same time as the private housing, and to stop them from being able to exchange on private housing sales until the social housing is inhabited.

In fairness Joe S I have a vision of the council as a bunch of people in The Civic Centre reenacting scenes from "The Thick of It", so I view giving them money to do good as a waste.

I didn't say reduce price. The imposition of the affordable house levy rises the going price of all small build flats so the buyers pays £27,000 extra.

The council did have the buyer over a barrel. He was refused permission initially. He is not doing anything illegal, just exercising his rights.

Three of the flats from this development go to "The Langham Club". The rent from these can hopefully contribute to the renovation of the club. It would then be great if locals could become members, join the committee and put the club as a hub of the community.

I'm very sure it's far less exciting than that in our council offices!

I'm afraid that your argument is still faulty.  The price that "all small build flats" are sold at is affected purely by the prevailing market conditions across the local (and to some degree wider) area at the time they are sold (not the time planning consent is given or when they are being built).  If you took a levy like this away the drop in price would be negligible unless the ratio of "small build flats"  (in this example) to all property (new build or old stock) being sold was very high across a sizeable area.

I'm not familiar with this development and I'm not suggesting that the developer is doing anything illegal.  He will be doing whatever he can to ensure his profit is maximised.  I just don't see why we have to provide such easy means for developers to back out of their commitments in what has become the vast majority of cases.  If the initial offer from the council is not realistic, why would the developers agree in the first place?  On the off chance that the market might go up and they make some profit off that?  Any sensible developer will play things pretty safe and then squeeze whatever they can from each project.

I would be on side with you if I could see the council produce affordable housing. What seems to be built are those "shared ownership schemes" where you buy half a flat at an exorbitant price. Selling off council house stock hasn't helped and banks lending 7 times a persons wages for a mortgage has been a killer for a first time buyer. The small time builder becomes the scapegoat though. Just my tuppence worth.

Hi hob, I don't want to be disparaging but as Mcenroe once said 'you can't be serious'!'no developer is going to reduce the market value of a property for someone else to profit on resale. This a blatent atempt to increase profit margins from the development without providing some money for the wider community. And I suspect this won't be the end, if this get through, and it will, the developer will sell the site with planning to Paul Simon and they will double the size of the development -on appeal- and create another set of rabbit hutches. Sadly, this is the result of no social housing development since Thacher.

Hi Andy. I totally agree that there should be a contribution to society. My point is that the council skim off money for affordable housing but don't seem to produce anything. This in turn puts up the price of housing. I feel the buyer is giving the council a gift that disappears into ether. This particular development is genuine and is going ahead. This whole Community Infrastructure Levy will lead to some major legal battles and maybe council spending might become more transparent. The way things are at the moment the council will congratulate themselves for producing 9 more residential units when this development finishes.

Your right. I think the problem is two fold - developers can drive a coach, horses and Epsom race coarse though the planning regs, and councils reluctance to spend any money on capital projects only to have the government force them to sell what they've just built.

I don't pretend to know anything about this, but I thought this Guardian article gave a good explanation of the way developers can challenge the affordable housing requirement.

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jun/25/london-developers-via... 

Pasting in here from a note made last month on FB:

In the plans seen so far for Apex Towers, the 'affordable' 39% of the flats seem to be the same size and layout as the 'market price' ones. The difference must therefore be in the trim. It will be a doddle for Grainger to change that 39%, once the building is up, as Circumstances Will Have Changed. You read it here first, 21st July 2015.

Remember there is no affordable or social housing in Grainger's 198-dwelling Wards Corner plan. They claim that the difficult engineering, over the tube station, makes their plan 'unviable' with any social housing - again a secret calculation was done, 2006 figures. They are meant to provide social - now 'affordable' - housing elsewhere. The 59 flats in Apex Towers are it. Count 'em.

This is just the start of the disaster. DCLG now give developers more opportunities to wriggle out of section106 and community levy infrastructure (CIL) agreements and it is the local authority who are the ones over the barrel. In addition the proposal to extend the right to buy to housing Association properties will further reduce social housing stock. So you get -
Agreements to contribute to social housing torn up at the whim of the developer
Further reduction social housing stock from sales
The government seeking to heap the blame of local authorities for NOT making adequate provision of affordable and social housing

As an old boss of mine used to say " it would be funny if it wasn't so f***ing tragic"

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