Sadiq Khan turns down new plans for former Scotland Yard site over affordable housing levels

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Sadiq Khan has turned down new plans for the former Scotland Yard site after his planning experts decided it provided “unacceptable” levels of affordable housing. 

The Mayor ruled developers should not be allowed to increase the overall number of luxury homes by 27 to 295 as they were not boosting the affordable quota at the same time. 

There are currently just ten affordable dwellings – four per cent of the total – planned for the multi-million pound regeneration scheme at the Met Police’s former home in Westminster. 

The changes proposed by the developer, BL Development, which also paid £10 million in lieu under plans agreed by Boris Johnson in his final days as Mayor, would reduce the proportion of affordable homes to just three per cent.

Mr Khan’s administration has ramped up scrutiny of planning applications by recruiting a team of viability experts to examine the level of affordable housing in all proposals.

He said: “The scheme put forward for this site is simply unacceptable: it fails to provide the maximum amount of affordable housing that could be delivered on this landmark site, and follows a previous application in which the affordable housing provision agreed by the previous Mayor was already appallingly low. 

“This is a site which has only recently been transferred from public ownership and sits within one of the most expensive areas of the country. Having carefully considered the evidence available to me, I have decided to refuse permission for this amended application”.

It came as the Mayor repeated his call for Chancellor Philip Hammond to hand over control of the capital’s booming stamp duty receipts to fund an urgent acceleration of affordable house-building. 

Mr Khan described trying to tackle the housing crisis without access to the £3.4 billion raised by home sales in the capital in 2015/16 – up from around £1 billion in 2008/09 – as working with “one hand tied behind our backs”. 

The Mayor’s planning guidance published earlier this year said developers offering at least 35 per cent affordable housing without public subsidy could expect a quicker, more certain route through the planning system.

It follows his strong criticism of Wandsworth Council for allowing the developers of Battersea Power Station to cut the amount of affordable housing by 40 per cent, from 636 to just 386, although they said they still hoped to eventually deliver the whole amount.

However, he has also faced criticism over “waiving through” plans – previously called in by Mr Johnson – for a new Wimbledon Football Club stadium and 602 homes, less than 10 per cent of which will be affordable.

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