A new “urban character” approved for Chase Farm

On Tuesday evening, Enfield Council’s Planning Committee approved new plans for the Chase Farm hospital site, which will set “a new urban character” for this area of Enfield.  The plans fail to deliver enough affordable homes for key workers and fail to deliver the family sized homes that Enfield needs.

There are already 138 new homes nearing completion on the Chase Farm site. These latest plans will see a further 362 homes built at density levels normally seen in more urban settings. Such urban character density levels would usually be supported by appropriate amenities (e.g. shops, cafes etc.), but no such amenities are proposed for the Chase Farm development. The site will “benefit from” urban style housing densities, but not from urban style amenities.

The proposed development will not deliver enough affordable housing. Just 14 (4%!) of the 362 homes to be built on this publicly owned land will be at London Affordable Rent levels, way short of the 100+ required by Enfield’s planning policies.

Planning officers said the under delivery of affordable homes was justified because it was an increase on the previous approved application for the site (2015), but we disagree.  

The previously approved application would have delivered just 13 homes at affordable social rent levels, which is abysmally low.  At the time, this was justified by officers because the application intended to build a further 53 homes designated as Key Worker Accommodation for hospital staff. Unfortunately, the current application no longer includes this Key Worker Accommodation. It’s worth remembering that there were once 286 homes designated for hospital staff on this site – now, with these latest plans approved – it seems there will be none.

The current application will not deliver the family homes that Enfield needs.  Planning policy says that 60%-65% of new homes in Enfield should have three of more bedrooms, based on local need. Providing these homes would, amongst other things, reduce overcrowding – which has serious health implications. However, the plans approved last night will allow just 21% of the homes to have three bedrooms, which is roughly around a third of what is required (none of them will have four bedrooms).

Between the first and second applications, there has been a reduction of 94 family sized homes. The planning officers said the number of homes with three or more bedrooms could possibly be increased at a later stage, as part of a Reserved Matters application, but we think this is unlikely to happen. We have seen that with each application, the number of affordable/key worker and family sized homes are reduced – a gradual erosion over time, where what was previously agreed is not delivered.

Planning officers also suggested that including the homes that are already built makes the percentage of family sized homes acceptable.  However, even with taking this approach, the proportion of homes with three of more bedrooms would only be 37%, around half of what is required by planning policy.  

So, where does this leave us? A new urban area on the edge of the greenbelt, without urban amenities. A huge reduction in Key Worker Accommodation. Very few affordable to rent homes being built on publicly owned land. Far less family housing than is needed and far less than was previously agreed. We’ve seen this far too often – excuse after excuse given for developments that will have a big impact on local people but that fail to get anywhere near meeting local housing needs. The planning system is failing us. This has to stop.

Picture Credit:
Steve Sea: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chase_Farm_Hospital_Enfield_-_panoramio.jpg

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