In the first six months of 2022, more than 1,000 new homes were approved by Enfield Council. However, the type of homes approved did not reflect local needs or planning policy.
A large number of homes were granted planning permission in the first six months of 2022.
More than 1,000 new homes were granted planning approval across Enfield in the first six months of 2022. Over 750* of these were approved by councillors on the Planning Committee and a further 268 were approved by council planning officers.
In addition, 162 homes at Arnos Grove Station were approved by the Planning Inspectorate in March following an appeal against the Planning Committee’s decision to refuse permission.
Enfield’s annual housing target for new homes is 1,250 per year, so approving more than 1,000 homes in the six months should put Enfield’s annual housing target within reach.
* includes 351 homes at Cockfoster’s Tube Station Car Park, which were blocked by Secretary of State for Transport after having been approved by the Planning Committee. Care home rooms are included and counted at a ratio of 1:1.8.
The type of homes approved did not reflect local needs or planning policy.
The large majority of the 750+ homes approved by the Planning Committee were 1-2 bed flats. Less than 20% were homes with 3 or more bedrooms, which is under a third of what’s required by Enfield’s planning policies and far below the level the evidence says is needed. [1, 2]
Very few of the new homes approved by council officers were for homes with 3 or more bedrooms.
The shortfall of approvals for new larger family homes is a serious problem because Enfield has high levels of overcrowding due to a shortage of affordable family sized accommodation, and is a long way off meeting its 10-15 year strategic target for family sized homes. [3, 4, 5, 6]
Encouragingly, the Council recently refused to grant planning permission for a scheme because it would fail to deliver a sufficient number of larger family homes and this decision was subsequently upheld on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate. The Inspector who reviewed the case expressed their concern about the continued shortfall in the provision of family housing in Enfield, and stated that the failure to meet local polices for larger family homes would result in “considerable harm”. This decision should nudge council planners to push for a larger number of family homes in their negotiations with developers. 
Around 15% of the homes approved by the Planning Committee were genuinely affordable Social Rent homes, which is significantly below the target of 28%. None of the new homes approved by council officers were Social Rent and very few, if any, were classed as “affordable”. 
Notably, more planning applications for Social Rent homes were refused than approved in the first six months of 2022 (plans for 216 Social Rent homes were refused planning permission, compared to 118 approved). 
Enfield has 3,108 homeless households currently living in temporary accommodation, so the low number of Social Rent homes approved is a serious concern. 
A significant proportion of the approvals were for flats in converted office blocks.
Most of the homes approved by council planning officers were small-scale developments (e.g. developments which will each deliver an additional 1-3 homes by sub-dividing existing homes, or from demolishing garages). However, more than a third of the new homes approved by officers were for flats in converted offices, or flats created by building additional floors on top of existing blocks of flats.
The number of approvals for flats in converted offices in Enfield is a concern because of the poor standards of accommodation associated with some office conversions, especially offices converted using controversial permitted development rights. [11, 12] Furthermore, the Council’s evidence shows that Enfield needs more employment space (e.g. offices) and cannot afford to lose more offices to conversions. 
Rising costs may mean many of the approved homes will not be built.
Getting plans for new housing approved is one thing, but actually building it is quite another and this is becoming increasingly challenging. For example, Enfield Council has recently reported that some of its building projects are being delayed due to cost increases (e.g. Meridian Water) and that four sites where it had been planning to build over 300 homes may now no longer be viable due to current market conditions. 
Figure 1 Examples of homes approved by Enfield’s Planning Committee Jan-Jun 2022
Figure 2 Examples of homes approved by Enfield’s Planning Officers Jan-Jun 2022
FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES
- Enfield’s Core Strategy (2010) and Development Management Document (2014) stipulate that 65% of Market Housing and 60% of Social Rented housing should have 3 or more bedrooms.
- Enfield’s Local Housing Needs Assessment 2020 says that 71.5% of Market homes and 50% of affordable homes should have 3+ bedrooms
- New research shows that urgent action is needed to provide family housing in Enfield – Better Homes Enfield (betterhomes-enfield.org)
- Enfield Housing 2020: Needs Sacrificed for Targets – Better Homes Enfield (betterhomes-enfield.org)
- bhe-needs-not-numbers-1.pdf (wordpress.com) https://betterhomesenfield.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/bhe-needs-not-numbers-1.pdf
- Enfield’s deepening family housing crisis – Better Homes Enfield (betterhomes-enfield.org)
- See Appeal Decision for 9 Ridgemount Gardens, ENFIELD, EN2 8QL, issued April 2022 (Appeal Ref: APP/Q5300/W/21/3277794) https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/
- Enfield’s Core Strategy (2010) and Development Management Document (2014) stipulate that 28% of homes on Major Devlopment (10+ homes) should be Social Rent
- The Planning Committee refused plans to redevelop the Gilpin’s Bell pub site on Fore Street (110 Social Rent homes) in January 2022 and refused the redevelopment of the disused Moorfield Family Centre EN3 5PS in March 2022 (106 Social Rent homes).
- See Page 128 of Public Pack Agenda Document for Cabinet, 06/07/2022 (enfield.gov.uk) https://governance.enfield.gov.uk/documents/g14191/Public%20reports%20pack%2006th-Jul-2022%2019.00%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10
- Permitted development allows offices to be converted into residential accommodation without the need to comply with normal planning guidelines. This has resulted in some very poor housing that has been called “slums of the future” and “rabbit hutch homes” e.g. see https://inews.co.uk/news/housing/uk-heatwave-converted-office-homes-uninhabitable-temperatures-more-common-1750809?ito=twitter_share_article-top
- Will Enfield’s office conversions pose a ‘deadly risk’ in heatwaves? – Better Homes Enfield (betterhomes-enfield.org)
- See for example ‘Strategic Policy SP E4: Supporting offices’ of the draft Local Plan, which says that “Evidence suggests we need to plan for around 37,000 sqm of net additional floorspace by 2039”
- See “Housing Development & Approach to identifying Risk & Management” 26th July 2022