Bloemfontein Road scheme survives Government interest

A new health centre and 70 affordable homes will go ahead as planned after the Secretary of State declines to veto LB Hammersmith & Fulham’s approval.

A political wrangle, linked to the level of affordable housing required to allow schemes to go ahead, had threatened to scupper the scheme for good. But the government has now rejected calls for it to overturn the local authority’s decision to grant permission.

The scheme’s critics had argued that a ward with 51% socially rented homes, more than Lambeth and Hackney, needed even more social housing as part of this development.

A decision to grant planning permission for the development, in Bloemfontein Road, W12, was made by Hammersmith & Fulham Council in July after extensive local consultation. The scheme promises an innovative health and social care centre, 70 homes providing a step onto the local property ladder, improvements to the local park and funding to pay back the costs of building a new public swimming pool.

In August, GLA planning officers recommended that the Mayor of London should also approve the scheme, despite their previous objections to the lack of affordable housing for rent. They concluded that the overall benefits for the community far outweighed the need to adhere to strict social housing targets and the scheme again got the go-ahead.

“The Mayor of London’s decision marked an important move in planning policy for London,” says Council Leader Steven Greenhalgh. “It shows the days of counter-productive affordable housing targets are dead – they served only to prevent developments getting off the ground at all.

“In H&F we have, instead, set ourselves a new target, to build 6,500 affordable homes in ten years, which will outstrip by 44% the number delivered by previous percentage targets under the London Plan.”

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had been under pressure  to intervene. But the Government Office for London has now written to the council saying that, while there is potential conflict with the need to provide social housing, the wider benefits of the scheme mean she has decided to leave the decision to the local council. The letter says;

"…..the Secretary of State considers that the proposals broadly accord with national and regional policy objectives in terms of … accessibility to health facilities; regeneration in deprived areas; provision of open space, sports and recreation facilities; provision of mixed use developments; contributing to the supply of new housing units; and the provision of community infrastructure.”

See previous lookwest coverage.

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