Last night, Enfield’s Planning Committee narrowly voted to approve plans to build 13 tower blocks at Edmonton Green Shopping Centre.
The plans for Edmonton Green Shopping Centre include 13 new tower blocks ranging from 10 to 30 storeys, as well as a number of 4-9 storey buildings. When complete, the scheme will deliver 1,438 new homes, in addition to 719 of the existing homes that will be retained. The new buildings will provide homes for 3,045 people.
Around 445 (31%) of the new homes will be classed as affordable, although more than half of these could be Shared Ownership, which is likely to be unaffordable to most local people. This means that approximately 200 (14%) of the new homes would be genuinely affordable to local residents.
Only around 90 of the homes would be genuinely affordable family-sized homes (3+ bedrooms), which is both far below what is needed locally, and half the number required by planning policy. Edmonton Green already has the lowest number of 3+ bedroom homes in Enfield and very high rates of overcrowding – which is connected with serious health issues – so it is a pity that this scheme will not do more to address the acute shortage of larger family homes in the area.
Another issue is that over 1 in 4 of the new homes (where details have been provided) will be single aspect i.e. windows in only one direction. Single aspect dwellings are more difficult to ventilate naturally and are more likely to overheat, and therefore should normally be avoided.
The new scheme would deliver some benefits in terms of urban greening (e.g. 400 saplings would be planted) and improvements to public spaces. However, council officers supporting the scheme accepted there would be a lack of park space for the additional 615 children who will live there, and in particular a substantial shortage of play areas for children aged 5+ years. A council officer suggested that these ‘older’ children could play on The Green outside Edmonton Green train station (but this would involve crossing a busy road) or use the Plevna Road Open Space (but this is fairly small) or walk to Montagu Recreation Ground (a 10–15-minute walk from the development).
Two residents were given less than 3 minutes each to express their concerns about the scheme. Their concerns included a lack of green space, loss of light to their homes, overshadowing and disruption. Officers accepted that there would be issues for the existing residents, such as a loss of daylight, sunlight and having to live with 12-13 years of major building work.
The applicants (Crosstree) were given 10-minutes to speak in support of their scheme. They spoke about their support for the local area and about how successful the shopping centre currently was, with 99% occupancy and a footfall of one million visitors per month, even post pandemic. Some councillors questioned why Crosstree wanted to significantly reduce the amount of retail space at the scheme, given the current success of the shopping centre.
A large proportion of the approved scheme is still in “outline” form, which means there is uncertainty about what the potential amenity benefits might be (e.g. community spaces, shops, cafes etc.) and how many additional jobs the scheme will actually deliver, if any. It is estimated that the development could, in some scenarios, result in a loss of over 800 full time jobs. This lack of clarity about the impact of important elements of the scheme is concerning. A plan for Edmonton Green that risks such a substantial reduction in local employment should not have been approved.
Another concern that was discussed at some length was the impact on Edmonton’s remaining heritage assets, which are already at risk. The heritage officer described the harm the scheme would have on ten nearby heritage sites, but ultimately the planning officers said they felt the schemes benefits outweighed the harm to local heritage assets.
There is no doubt that this area of Edmonton Green would benefit from investment, and Crosstree have stepped up to offer to invest in the redevelopment of the shopping centre, and by all accounts they have been working hard to support the local community and work with local businesses. Yes, the approved scheme will certainly bring some benefits. However, we feel local residents – and particularly children and young people – would have benefited more by a scheme which delivered more genuinely affordable family housing, far more green space and more certainty regarding amenity and employment opportunities.
The scheme was approved by 7 votes to 5.