Enfield Housing 2020: Needs Sacrificed for Targets

KEY POINTS:

  • In 2020, the council approved plans for 12 major developments which could deliver more than 5,200 new homes
  • None of these developments met planning standards for: ‘Family Housing’ or ‘Access to green space’
  • Only 3 developments met planning standards for ‘Affordable Housing’ 
  • Many of the homes approved will be too small and will lack the space needed to live comfortably

Background

Opportunities to build the homes that Enfield needs were repeatedly missed in 2020, because Enfield Council was unable to get housing developers to meet a number of important planning standards.

Between January and December 2020, Enfield Council approved 12 major housing developments, which combined could deliver over 5,200 new homes.

This is an astonishing amount of housing to approve in a single year and is more than four times the borough’s annual target.

On the face of it this seems like good news.

Enfield Council has not met its housing targets since 2018 and in recent years has been one of the worst performing councils in London in terms of building new homes – so this surge in approvals is long overdue.

However, our analysis of these 12 developments suggests that planning standards are routinely side-lined. This means these developments are unlikely to deliver enough of the types of homes that Enfield needs and many of the homes that are built could be of a sub-standard quality.

Family Housing

Enfield’s shortage of family homes is well documented. Consequently, planning standards say that 60-65% of the new homes built in Enfield should have at least three bedrooms.

However, none of the major developments approved in 2020 came close to meeting this standard.  Overall, just 20% of the homes approved will have three or more bedrooms – less than a third of what’s required.

Affordable Housing 

Enfield does not have enough affordable homes. Consequently, planning standards require 28% of the homes on new developments to be provided at London Affordable Rent levels.  However, only 3 of the 12 developments approved in 2020 met this standard.  

Overall, only 16% of the new homes will be at London Affordable Rent levels, this is just over half of what is required. Enfield needs homes that are affordable to rent but it appears that developers in Enfield are routinely allowed to deliver far less.

Homes with sufficient space

Most of the homes planned for these 12 developments will be small flats in blocks. Many of the flats will just about meet minimum space standards – they are not spacious. When reflecting on this, it is worth bearing in mind that flats built in the UK are amongst the smallest in Europe. 

Permitted Development Office conversions in the pipeline in Enfield

Almost 1 in 10 of the new flats would come from Permitted Development office conversions. Flats delivered via Permitted Development are often sub-standard and suffer from a severe lack of space, poor ventilation and lighting, and no amenity space. Tom Copley, London’s Deputy Mayor for Housing, referred to these developments as “the slums of the future”

Tom Copley – Deputy Mayor for Housing

Access to green space

None of the 12 developments came close to meeting the borough’s standard for the amount of green space needed. The current standard says that there should be in the region on 2.37 hectares of green space per 1,000 residents. One development approved in 2020 (Colosseum Park) misses this standard by around eight hectares, which is the equivalent of 10-11 football pitches.

Paying such little regard to green space standards is concerning. The provision of high-quality green and blue infrastructure is recognised as an essential component of sustainable and inclusive communities, particularly in the face of climate change and the ongoing pandemic. 

This is not aligned with Enfield Council’s aim to be the greenest borough in London:

London Borough of Enfield  – 3 November 2020, Key Decision: [5235]

Where does this leave Enfield?

It seems that important planning standards are being routinely broken to enable the council to meet its overall housing target.

Planning standards are broken so frequently and to such an extent, that it is becoming difficult to see the point of Enfield having some of these planning standards.

Actions speak louder than words. There is a mismatch between the council’s rhetoric regarding greenspaces when compared with the actions of the council’s planning department.

Enfield certainly needs more homes, especially decent sized family homes and homes that local people can afford to buy or rent. However, the drive to meet and exceed targets by cutting corners is not sustainable and the cumulative impact of this will be felt by those who inhabit these dwellings and the surrounding areas.

Important opportunities are being repeatedly missed.  There is a limited availability of brownfield sites to build on in Enfield, so it’s important that these sites are used better in order to deliver more of the types of homes that Enfield needs.  

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