Plans to build over 350 new homes on the car park of Cockfosters station look set to progress having previously been controversially blocked by the now former transport secretary Grant Shapps.
Labour-run Enfield Council has announced that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) “has decided not to call in” the scheme and potentially override the February 2022 decision by the council’s planning to approve the scheme, only to have it vetoed by Shapps the following month using an obscure clause of the Greater London Authority Act (1999) relating to TfL “operational land”.
Section 163 of the Act requires TfL to secure the consent of the transport secretary for any change in ownership of its land, which the executing the plans, submitted by Connected Living, a partnership between Transport for London, which owns the land, and residential developer Grainger, would entail. Shapps refused on the grounds that the homes would render parking provision at the station “inadequate”.
On London understands that following the DLUHC’s decision TfL will submit a new Section 163 application to the Department for Transport, now led by Mark Harper, in the next few weeks and is keen to take forward the consented scheme, which at the time of Shapps’s intervention required only the finalisation of Section 106 community benefits conditions with Enfield officers in order to go ahead. However, there is no set timescale for the DfT to respond.
Enfield leader Nesil Caliskan welcomed the news that DLUHC has “upheld the original decision made by local councillors in the best interests of local people,” but also expressed “regret that so much time has been wasted when more good-quality housing is desperately needed by so many of our residents”.
The 40 per cent affordable scheme, which includes four tower blocks of up to 14 storeys in height, was approved on the casting vote of the planning committee chair in line with council officers’ recommendation though in the face of strong opposition by some local residents, local Labour MP Bambos Charalambous and Conservative neighbour Theresa Villiers, the MP for Chipping Barnet, who lobbied Shapps to step in.
The DLUHC decision represents a victory for Sadiq Khan’s policy of making use of TfL-owned land, including car parks, around transport hubs for building more homes and reinforces the impression that relations between City Hall and the Conservative government have improved since Shapps was moved to a different job and Michael Gove was restored as Secretary of State for Levelling Up.
This article was updated on 6 June 2023 with the information about a new Section 106 application.
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