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Court backs rejection of AHMM Islington housing scheme


A High Court judge has backed Islington Council’s rejection of an AHMM-designed scheme over its lack of affordable housing

Developer Parkhurst Road bought the site – a former territorial army base in Holloway, north London – in 2013 and applied for permission from Islington Council to build 96 homes with ‘little or no’ affordable housing.

The developer lost two public inquiries into the scheme, with the decision then upheld by an independent planning inspector appointed by the then communities secretary Sajid Javid.

The case was finally taken to the High Court this year, which last week backed Javid’s decision and Islington’s judgement that the amount of affordable housing offered was not the maximum possible.

Islington Council requires 50 per cent affordable housing on developments on a site-by-site basis.

A council statement said: ‘This decision reinforces Islington Council’s long-standing position that developers should abide by the councils’ planning guidelines – rather than overpaying for land and then trying to bypass our affordable housing requirements.’

It added that developers must respect the council’s policies on affordable housing when they purchase land in the borough.

Parkhouse Road submitted an initial planning application for 112 homes in 2013. After this scheme was rejected at appeal, it submitted the scaled-down scheme rejected last week, for 96 homes in blocks of up to six storeys, designed by AHMM.

In a postscript to the judgement, the appeal judge appeal recommended that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors revise its guidance on viability assessments to clarify the rules on land valuation.

The plans are listed on development manager First Base’s website for 112 homes located ’within an attractive landscaped garden and courtyard, and an inspirational design that complements the surrounding architecture and character of the area’.

A  Parkhurst Road spokesperson said: ‘We are disappointed with the High Court’s decision. We acquired the site from the Ministry of Defence through a competitive bidding process in 2013, and our approach to viability was previously approved by the Planning Inspectorate at appeal in 2015.

‘Our track record in Islington speaks for itself – all our schemes deliver a significant amount of affordable homes and jobs that help build thriving mixed communities. It is therefore extremely disappointing that the site remains empty after five years and is not delivering much-needed homes for Londoners. We are currently reviewing our options for the site.’

AHMM has been approached for comment. 


Readers' comments (4)

  • Looks great. Get on with it?!

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  • Great. Central Government, Islington, and a range of institutions get together, backed by the judiciary, to perfectly demonstrate why we have a lack of affordable housing, or any housing in general?

    Who needs the Brexit fools when you already have these people, who with good individual intentions, but put together, produce nothing. Think again guys?

    The developer and their architects are doing their best to produce a good environment to live in whilst staying solvent?

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  • Parkhurst Road's reference to their 'approach to viability' having been previously approved by the Planning Inspectorate at appeal in 2015 suggests that their winning bid in 2013 to purchase the land had been based on a valuation that assumed a lesser proportion of affordable homes than required by Islington Council.
    So was the Planning Inspectorate also assuming this, or was there a misunderstanding between them and the developer on the arithmetic?

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  • I find it amazing that at a time when the government is actively consulting on NPPF - the premise of which is getting housing delivered in a timely fashion - that here we are: a combination of judiciary and council stepping up to the plate to deliver absolutely nothing. Meanwhile the developer - the only one with any skin in the game - is left to make their development ever more expensive to those who need homes as his costs rack up.
    Decisions such as this are a national disgrace

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