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Hawkins\Brown Croydon plan challenges mayor's affordable housing rules

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London mayor Sadiq Khan’s new affordable housing rules face a major test after councillors approved Hawkins\Brown’s revised masterplan for Croydon town centre with just 20 per cent affordable housing

The practice, working with Leonard Design and landscape firm Spacehub, was this week given the go-ahead for a mixed-use scheme to replace the original Allies and Morrison proposals, granted permission in 2014.

But the scheme has not satisfied the Greater London Authority, which earlier this year launched new supplementary planning guidance (SPG) cracking down on viability assessments for schemes that claim to be unable to support at least 35 per cent affordable housing without public subsidy.

In comments submitted to the council as part of the planning application, the GLA said: ‘The applicant’s approach to viability is unacceptable to the GLA, being inconsistent with the principles of openness and transparency required to foster a greater understanding of and trust in the planning system as promoted within the mayor’s draft Affordable Housing and Viability SPG.’

It added: ‘If there are exceptional circumstances for keeping elements confidential, the applicant must clearly detail them to the mayor to consider if it is in the public interest to maintain the exception.’

The new application would provide up to 967 homes, with just 20 per cent at affordable levels, although the council has agreed on a review mechanism which could increase that level if profits are higher than anticipated.

Due to its size, the scheme, prepared for developers Westfield and Hammerson, must now be considered by GLA planners.

A spokesman for the GLA said: ‘The applicant has agreed to provide the GLA with viability information that will be published in accordance with the Mayor’s Affordable Housing and Viability SPG.’ 

A statement from the developers, provided to the AJ, said: ‘With the Croydon Council having only approved the enhanced scheme last night and the application now being forwarded to the GLA, it is too early to comment at this stage.’

The GLA had not responded to the AJ’s request for a comment at the time of publication.

Hawkins\Brown was appointed in 2016 to rework the original application. Changes include the addition of a new patch of land, a revised mall layout to produce a three-level scheme, the separation of residential towers from the retail element, as well as revised access arrangements.

The development would also provide 166,316m² of retail space and 3,895m² of offices on the site of two existing shopping centres and offices.

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