Controversial hyper-density development gets go-ahead

Last night, Enfield Council’s planning committee narrowly voted in favour of plans for 1,800 new homes, which will see around 3,600 people living at the B&Q site on the A10.  

The Colosseum Park scheme is controversial because of the 29-storey tower block the scheme proposes and how this will impact the Enfield skyline. Further issues with the scheme are the very low number of genuinely affordable homes and family homes it delivers, as well as the loss of a well-used bingo hall, which would have a disproportionate negative impact on older women in the local community.

The committee’s vote was tied 5/5, which meant Sinan Boztas, as Chair of the committee, cast the deciding vote in support of the application.

A local resident, Matt Burn, made a deputation against the proposal saying that around 9 out of 10 of the homes would be unaffordable to the majority of local people, because only 8% would be at “London Affordable Home” rates, a level far below the 28% required by policy. Furthermore, all of the Intermediate Housing proposed (22%) would be Shared Ownership, which most local first-time buyers would struggle to afford. None of the homes will be “London Living Rent”, a type of home which would be affordable to local people.

The members who voted to refuse the development were concerned about the scheme’s density, the lack of affordable housing and the low number of family homes. The scheme would deliver just 240 homes with three or more bedrooms, which is 750 less than is required by policy. During the debate councillors also acknowledged problems with Shared Ownership.  

In making a statement in support of the officer’s recommendation, Andy Higham (the council’s Head of Development Management) said that tower blocks and high densities were required to help deliver affordable housing. This claim seems somewhat unfounded given that this scheme does not deliver anywhere near the policy targets for genuinely affordable housing. Furthermore, research commissioned by the GLA shows that the levels of affordable housing delivered tend to decrease as density increases.  This research found that “as a general rule, the percentage of affordable housing in larger schemes tends to decrease as density increases” and that “taller buildings also tend to provide less affordable housing” (1).  A GLA topic paper also noted that “in lower value areas mid-height and then lower forms of development tend to have better viability” (2).  

The officer recommending the scheme to the committee said he recognised that the development would not provide enough play space for children and that they would need to cross the A10 to use Enfield Playing Fields. The officer described the A10 as a “monstrous road” and said it was unreasonable for primary school children to cross it, but that he did think it acceptable for children aged 11 or older to cross the A10.

The members who voted to grant the application were: Mahym Bedekova (Labour), Sinan Boztas (Labour), Elif Erbil (Labour), Susan Erbil (Labour) and Ahmet Hasan (Labour). Four of these members made no contribution during the debate.

The five members who voted against the application were: Maria Alexandrou (Conservative), Kate Anolue (Labour), Michael Rye (Conservative) and Jim Steven (Conservative), Hass Yusuf (Labour)

  1. LONDON PLAN DENSITY RESEARCH, LESSONS FROM HIGHER DENSITY DEVELOPMENT https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/project_2_3_lessons_from_higher_density_development.pdf
  2. THE draft LONDON PLAN 2017 TOPIC PAPER, Housing Density https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/london_plan_topic_paper_on_density_policy_and_details_of_research_-_2017_final.pdf
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