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The fact that developers are targeting London’s climbing residential market has been demonstrated recently by an application from a developer in South London to renovate an empty 1960s office building. Unfortunately for the developer, the Planning Inspector did not agree that the proposals were adequate to meet required affordable housing provisions. In fact, the developer had not included any such provisions, on the basis that doing so would make the scheme unviable. The office block, in Sutton, is 12-storey building and the proposal comprised its conversion into 160 flats, as well as a refurbishment of the outside of the building.
The developer may have thought that the improvement to the immediate area, which is likely to have been created by the scheme, would be enough to win approval. However, after the council itself failed to come to a decision within the requisite timescales, it was the Planning Inspector who made the ruling. However, the Council did indicate that it would have refused the permission in view of the lack of affordable housing provision, and this, it appears, has been taken into account by the Inspector. It was also indicated in the Inspector’s report that the argument as to financial viability did not hold and, therefore, the positive aspects of a boost to local housing, an improvement in the “poor” appearance of the building, and the achievement of National Planning Policy Framework objectives were not enough to allow the development to proceed.
Sally Brough, Director at Morgan Pryce, comments, “The case perhaps serves as a warning to developers to build into their proposals affordable housing strategies, as a failure to do so could lead to an inability to take the project any further. Councils – at least Sutton Council – are taking this issue seriously and may be unwilling to set a precedent by allowing one developer to avoid these requirements.”
This news was brought to you by Morgan Pryce, a specialist tenant acquisition agent with offices in Oxford Circus and the City. Morgan Pryce specialises in search, negotiation and project management and works exclusively for tenants.