Will the plans for Colosseum Park create a good and healthy place to live?
Will the plans deliver enough of the types of housing Enfield needs?
Do the plans make effective use of the land and help protect the green belt?
We think the answers are probably not, no, and no.
High density housing can work, but we think the densities proposed for Colosseum Park are too high and will create a stressful, noisy and unhealthy living environment.
The housing density proposed is much higher than even the highest classification of density, known as “hyperdensity”. Hyperdensity housing is very rare in a suburban setting and we think the densities planned for Colosseum Park are excessive and go far beyond an efficient use of the land.
Hyperdensities on a site of this scale are normally found in central/city areas which have the amenities and characteristics needed to support them e.g. central London areas with excellent public transport, nearby access to large parks, and easy access to good quality well paid jobs. Good location is the main driver of satisfaction for people living in high density housing. The amenities near Colosseum Park are not good enough to support the densities proposed. For example, the PTAL public transport ratings for the site are 2-3, whereas hyperdensity developments usually rate 5-6 (i.e. the best). Furthermore, future residents would need to cross the A10 dual carriageway and/or Southbury Road to access many of the local amenities – a dangerous, stressful, and off-putting experience.
Research by the LSE shows that around two-fifths of residents living in high density housing experience noise problems. The practicalities of so many people living so close to one another means that noise can quickly become an issue, as the actions of a few individuals can affect very large numbers of neighbours. The research showed how some high density developments created an ‘echo chamber’ effect for noises at ground level – a problem even for those on the highest floors. People reported noise issues linked to the use of balconies, adjacent neighbours, and young people hanging around in communal areas. People living in high density schemes near major roads were faced with an unattractive choice between overheating (windows closed) or noise and smell from outside (windows open). We think the very high densities proposed for Colosseum Park, and its location next to major roads, will lead to serious noise related issues for future residents.
People living in high density housing need easy access to good quality open spaces and parks in order to get a break from the stresses of high density living. Architects’ drawings of outdoor spaces often show happy families chatting and playing, but the reality is that poor quality open spaces are uninviting and underused. The open spaces proposed for Colosseum Park appear to be far too small for the number of people who will be living there, are too close to major roads, and appear to consist largely of hard surfaced thoroughfares. The overall ratio of people to open space in the local area would be made far worse by this development, and the areas surrounding the site are already classified as having a deficiency of open space. We think that the poor open space provision could have serious consequences for the well-being of future residents.
The current plans do not deliver enough of the family sized homes that Enfield needs.
Just c.17% of the homes would be 3-bedroom units, whereas council documents say that 61% of those looking to move in the private sector want 3+-bedroom properties and the local development plan says around 60% of the units should have 3 or more bedrooms.
The under delivery of family sized homes has serious consequences. More than 1 in 10 households in Enfield are already classified as overcrowded (roughly 14,000 households) – which is almost three times the national average. Research links overcrowding and lack of space with a number of negative health and life outcomes (e.g. inability to study, poor sleep, anxiety, increased risk of accidents and infectious diseases). The wait for a family sized council home is already well over 10 years, and thousands of families spend years in expensive and unsuitable temporary accommodation, partly due to the lack of affordable family homes.
Over the last few years Enfield has seen a steady stream of major schemes approved that deliver mainly or solely 1 or 2 bedroom flats; this has happened to such an extent that Enfield already has enough 1-2 bedroom flats in the pipeline to meet its 10 year target, but is not delivering anywhere near enough homes with 3 or more bedrooms.
Council documents also show that affordable rented accommodation is in short supply – people across the borough are struggling to pay private sector rents and around two-thirds claim housing benefit. It is therefore very disappointing that the proposal for Colosseum Park aims to deliver just 125 affordable rent homes, well short of the 444 it is required to deliver by local policy.
No indicative prices appear to have been provided for the shared ownership or build-to-rent (BtR) units, but prices at other local schemes suggest that these homes will not be affordable to the large majority of existing renters in Enfield, not least due to the high service and maintenance charges that can be associated with high density and BtR developments. This means these flats will probably be occupied by people currently residing outside the borough.
This proposal does not protect the green belt, if anything, it puts it at increased risk of being developed.
The proposal does not deliver the affordable family housing Enfield needs, so this will have to be built elsewhere e.g. possibly on the green belt. Furthermore, the proposed housing is not targeted towards local people, so it will increase the local population and over time further exacerbate the need for family sized housing – which will need to be built somewhere.
We think this site should be developed for housing and that the land should be used efficiently – however, the current plans focus far too heavily on the overall number of units and not enough on local housing needs. We think a greater overall efficiency would be achieved by delivering a far higher proportion of affordable housing and family homes i.e. the housing that Enfield desperately needs. Delivering more family housing will also help improve social stability and community cohesion and soften the density to a more liveable level.