Sadiq Khan has used his planning powers to give the go ahead to a 441 home property development in Brentford that Labour-run Hounslow Council had indicated it would block.
The scheme, which will include 218 “genuinely affordable” dwellings, was lined up for rejection by Hounslow in February on the grounds that the new buildings would have a detrimental effect on nearby heritage sites, including Kew Gardens. But the Mayor, having visited the site – a former Citroen car dealership next to the M4 close to where it passes Gunnersbury Park – and Kew, and after holding a representation hearing on 20 July, has decided to give a green light to the project, which will be delivered by housing association L&Q.
The decision follows Mayor Khan opting to also “call in” two schemes that had been turned down by Greenwich Council, another Labour-run authority, which some had seen a test of his willingness to over-rule boroughs, including Labour ones, that reject housing schemes under pressure from campaigners and some local residents. The Greenwich plans are the tenth and eleventh Khan has intervened in in this way since becoming London Mayor in May 2016.
A revised application by L&Q drawn up in consultation with the Mayor saw an increase of 14 in the total number of homes proposed, of which 152 were described as “intermediate” affordable dwellings and 66 as “affordable rented units”. City Hall says the revised plans have increased the proportion of affordable homes in the scheme from 40% to 50%, in keeping with the Mayor’s long term goal for housing delivery in London.
The intermediate homes will be for shared ownership and those for rent will be “based on social rent levels for households on low incomes”. One of the buildings will now be 17 storeys tall, two higher than originally envisaged. Five houses included in the scheme have been increased in size to accommodate five people rather than four. Other changes include a small reduction of on site car parking spaces to 63 and an increase in cycle parking spaces by 196 to 881. L&Q will contribute £30,000 towards improvements to nearby Gunnersbury station.
While renewing his call for the government to more to help London build the homes it needs, Mayor Khan described the outcome of the Brentford application as showing “how we can unlock the potential of an underused site to build more of the affordable homes Londoners so urgently need”. He said he had given particular consideration to “the effect on historic buildings in nearby Kew Gardens” – an issue raised by Historic England – but that the promised new homes justified giving the scheme the go-ahead.
Amid concerns that overall housing supply across the capital is falling substantially, the Mayor stressed that he is “committed to using the full strength of my planning powers to get London building more affordable homes.”
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