Why are Enfield’s planning officers blocking affordable housing?

Plans to build affordable housing on a vacant site in Enfield have been recommended for refusal by Enfield’s planning officers.  (1)

This is very surprising as the scheme would deliver 106 flats, of which 100% would be London Affordable Rent (LAR). These flats would therefore help get over 100 families out of temporary accommodation.

Most schemes usually deliver a far lower proportion of genuinely affordable to rent homes (see the Case Studies at the end of the article). This is because affordable homes are typically funded by the money (profit) generated from building homes for sale.

A traditional developer would normally need to build between 1,500 – 2,000 homes in order to deliver 106 London Affordable Rent homes.  The developer for this scheme in Southbury (Social Capital Partners) has a different business ethos, which appears to help them to deliver a far greater number of affordable homes. (2)

Why is it important to build more LAR homes?

There are currently well over 3,000 Enfield households living in temporary accommodation, including 5,000 children, and this number is predicted to increase sharply over the coming months. (3)

Enfield already has one of the highest levels of temporary accommodation usage in the country, and often families have to live in temporary accommodation for several years due to a shortage of genuinely affordable rental properties.  The temporary accommodation is often low quality, cramped and poorly ventilated flats, some of which is developed from poorly converted office blocks.

Housing families in temporary accommodation is very expensive; in 2018/19, Enfield spent over £66m on the temporary accommodation service, so it makes financial sense to build more LAR. (4)

In addition, Enfield has failed to hit its housing targets every year since 2018 and has repeatedly failed the government’s Housing Delivery Test. The relatively small number of homes that have been built in Enfield have largely been unaffordable to local people and not enough of them have been genuinely affordable. (5)

In fact for many years, Enfield Council has allowed social rent homes to be demolished at a faster rate than they are being built, which exacerbates the shortage of genuinely affordable housing and means families are having to spend longer living in in temporary accommodation.   

All the above are important reasons to build more LAR homes.

What does the proposed scheme offer?

The proposed scheme will make use of a vacant brownfield site in a sustainable area and will deliver 100% LAR – this is a very rare thing indeed. The scheme would involve the construction of a 9-storey building and will deliver the following mix of flats:  

  • 41 x 1 bedroom, 2 person flats (39%)
  • 16 x 2 bedroom, 3 person flats (15%)
  • 35 x 2 bedroom, 4 person flats (33%)
  • 14 x 3 bedroom, 5 person flats (13%)

This scheme is proposing a lower proportion of homes with 3+ bedrooms than we would ideally like, but we think this is acceptable in this instance because of the other benefits of the scheme (i.e. 100% London Affordable Rent).

As it secures the delivery of 100% affordable housing, the scheme is supported by the Council’s Housing Renewal department. (6)

The scheme also has support from the GLA: Officers at the GLA reviewed the plans and concluded that the scheme facilitates the optimisation of this brownfield Opportunity Area site and helps to moderate the difference between the low-rise surrounding context and the existing 13-storey residential tower southwest of the site. They concluded that the proposed scale and massing of the building is supported in principle. (7)

Despite this, Enfield Council’s planning department have recommended refusal of the scheme: The planning officers’ main reasons appear to be on grounds of the building’s size, bulk and massing.  

It is true that this building will represent a change for the area. However, this has to be balanced by the fact that it would normally require a far larger scheme to be built to deliver anything close to this number of desperately needed affordable homes. Furthermore, as the GLA point out, there is a larger (13-storey) building nearby.

We have a serious housing crisis in Enfield and very high numbers of children in temporary accommodation. If this scheme is approved, it would help many families get out of temporary accommodation and into a secure and decent home.  The Planning Committee needs to reflect on this when deciding whether they agree with the planning officers’ recommendation to refuse a scheme that delivers 100% genuinely affordable homes.  

The scheme is due to be discussed by Enfield’s Planning Committee on Tuesday 22nd March 2022. We are urging the Planning Committee to re-consider and approve the application.

Moorfield Centre, 2 Moorfield Road, Enfield EN3 5PS. REF: 20/03011/FUL

CASE STUDY #1:  Colosseum Park

The Colosseum Park scheme in Enfield was supported by planning officers and approved by the planning committee in 2020. This scheme will see around 1,500 homes built across 26 different blocks, including five towers of between 16 and 29 storeys. Only c.125 (8%) of these homes would be London Affordable Rent (LAR) homes.

The scheme proposed for the vacant site in Southbury will deliver nearly as many LAR homes as the Colosseum Park scheme in a single block that is 7-9 storeys.

CASE STUDY #2:  Cockfosters Tube Station Car Park

The scheme at Cockfosters Tube Station Car Park which was supported by officers and approved by the planning committee would have delivered a total of 351 flats but only 10 flats (3%) would have been at London Affordable Rent.  At this rate, the Cockfosters scheme would need to have built 3,533 homes in order to generate 106 London Affordable Rent homes i.e. matched what is proposed at Moorfield Centre.


  1. Full Committee Report – Moorfield – 20-03011-FUL.pdf https://governance.enfield.gov.uk/documents/s91895/Full%20Committee%20Report%20-%20Moorfield%20-%2020-03011-FUL.pdf
  2. Social Capital Partners
  1. Latest temporary housing figures for Enfield
  1. Spend on temporary accommodation service
  1. Housing Deliver Test 2022
  1. Full Committee Report – Moorfield – 20-03011-FUL.pdf https://governance.enfield.gov.uk/documents/s91895/Full%20Committee%20Report%20-%20Moorfield%20-%2020-03011-FUL.pdf
  1. Full Committee Report – Moorfield – 20-03011-FUL.pdf https://governance.enfield.gov.uk/documents/s91895/Full%20Committee%20Report%20-%20Moorfield%20-%2020-03011-FUL.pdf
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