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London mayor refuses Squire towers change as affordable housing stance toughens


Sadiq Khan has continued his tough stance on ‘unacceptable’ affordable housing levels by refusing amended plans by Squire & Partners for a former Metropolitan Police HQ 

An initial application for a 268-home, 20-storey scheme at 8-10 Broadway, New Scotland Yard, was approved by Westminster Council last year, even though it included just 10 affordable flats and breached the authority’s own planning guidance on tall buildings. 

Developer BL Developments – owned by Abu Dhabi Financial Group – subsequently submitted revised plans in a bid to increase the total number of homes by 27 to 295. 

However, the developer’s reworked proposed no additional affordable homes or any uplift in the £10 million payment in lieu for provision of affordable housing elsewhere in the borough.

Throwing out the revised scheme, Khan said: ‘A shortage of affordable homes is at the heart of the housing crisis in our city.

‘The affordable housing provision agreed by the previous mayor was already appallingly low’

‘The scheme put forward for this site is simply unacceptable: it fails to provide the maximum amount of affordable housing that could be delivered on this landmark site, and follows a previous application in which the affordable housing provision agreed by the previous mayor was already appallingly low.’

Former mayor Boris Johnson sold the site, which had been publicly owned,  in April last year – a move that paved the way for the planned development. 

Khan added: ‘This is a site which has only recently been transferred from public ownership, and sits within one of the most expensive areas of the country. Having carefully considered the evidence available to me, I have decided to refuse permission for this amended application.’

City Hall planners said the amended application did not comply with the mayor’s Supplementary Planning Guidance on viability and affordable housing, which was published last month and states that developers offering at least 35 per cent affordable housing without public subsidy can expect a quicker route through the planning system.

Khan’s refusal of the amended application marks the latest development in his tough stance on affordable housing. In June, he said he was ‘furious’ at Wandsworth Council for allowing the developers behind the huge Battersea Power Station scheme to nearly halve the number of affordable homes proposed for the site.

The Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) won approval for a number of variations to its section 106 agreement, effectively reducing the number of affordable flats it is obliged to build in the near future at its Battersea plot from 636 to 386.

BL Developments can still press ahead with the approved application for the New Scotland site, which will replace an existing 20-storey 1966 Chapman Tayor Partners-designed block, or it could appeal the mayor’s decision to the secretary of state. 

Squire & Partners and BL Developments have been contacted for comment . 


Readers' comments (4)

  • Could the motives of the Hon.Boris Johnson MP / Westminster Council in respectively flogging off the site and granting the original planning approval be in any way similar to those of that former luminary of the Council, Dame Shirley Porter, in her noble efforts to rid Westminster of common people?

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  • Good news - hope this sets a precedent.
    Desparate need for this.. without this being factored into developers site appraisals escalation in land values will not be addressed

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  • Industry Professional

    Boris took a high land value because of low affordable provision. Is Khan going to give some money back to reduce the land value and enable more affordable or end up in an impasse with an unviable site? Khan has quite rightly said more affordable to be provided in developments, which is easily achievable by reducing outrageously high land values in future sales, but he can't run with the hounds AND chase with the hares wrt the schemes on land already bought. Particularly when Greater London Council took the reward of the high land value before his new edict.

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  • MacKenzie Architects

    Looks a quite unappealing scheme, but this appears too busy a location for affordable homes. No community, no public space, right in a busy corner of London.
    It would be nice if Masterplanners or people with vision could suggest decent neighbourhoods for affordable homes, not squeezed in as an afterthought bribe in the wrong locations.

    Much better if you just tax these developers for the social housing element and let them build what they want. But even then, there are philosophical issues with just taxing anyone who has a plan.

    I would far rather jobs were encouraged to move out of London.

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