Barnet: Council’s Sainsburys site consent tests flexibility of London Plan

Barnet: Council’s Sainsburys site consent tests flexibility of London Plan

Barnet Council has approved a plan to build a new supermarket and 1,309 homes within eleven tall buildings in Hendon on a site which falls outside locations it has deemed acceptable for high-rise blocks and will require Sadiq Khan’s approval of its design in order to go ahead.

Consent for the scheme, submitted by developer St George City and Sainsburys Supermarkets, was granted last week in line with council officers’ recommendations, which acknowledged that the London Mayor’s blessing will need to be secured.

The site, which lies off the Hyde Estate Road, NW9, east of the A5 road, already contains a Sainsburys store along with a petrol filling station, both of which would be replaced in two phases by a new Sainsburys, “flexible commercial space” and housing within twelve buildings, ten of which would be between 11 and 20 storeys high and one of which would be of 28 storeys. Of the 1,309 homes, 139 would have three bedrooms, 543 would have two, 503 would be one-bed and 125 would be studio flats.

A total of 403 homes would meet the Mayor’s definition of “affordable”, comprising 243 shared ownership homes, 56 London Living Rent homes – another form of low cost home ownership product – and 101 London Affordable Rent homes, which have rents close to those of new social rented homes. A further 30 are described as for “intermediate rent”.  At 35 per cent, the proportion of “habitable rooms” among the “affordable” types just meets the Mayor’s threshold for avoiding City Hall scrutiny of the plans’ viability calculations.

Responding to objections by local residents that “the height and scale of development is excessive”, council officers responded that although the application site is “not identified as a strategic tall buildings location” by Barnet “there are material circumstances which justify a departure from policy in this regard”. Their report includes a series of provisional views of the development from various nearby neighbourhoods and concludes that “overall, the proposed layout of the development would be coherent” and “benefit the legibility of the immediate vicinity”.

The plans have been considered in the context of the transition from the current London Plan, drawn up under the mayoralty of Boris Johnson and published in 2016, and his successor Mayor Khan’s draft new Plan, which sets out different rules but has yet to come into formal effect.

The officers’ report states that planning applications in the capital “should continue to be determined in accordance with the 2016 London Plan, while noting that account needs to be taken of emerging policies,” and that “due to the advanced nature of the DLP [draft new London Plan]” increasing weight” should be attached to the policies it contains which government inspectors – who have suggested changes to some of them – are content with.

It acknowledges that the proposed density of the development “exceeds the optimum densities set out within the current London Plan density matrix” it has nonetheless been “subject to a design-led approach in line with the draft London Plan”, which is described as taking “a less prescriptive approach”, whereby a development’s density results from an overall consideration of the site’s context, transport connections and access for pedestrians and cyclists. Khan’s draft plan also demands that the maximum possible housing density should always be sought.

Nearly 900 objections to the scheme have been received compared with 13 letters of support.

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