Chingford News

Eight-storey Chingford housing block approved

The project has drawn criticism as only nine flats out of 40 will be affordable, reports Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

An illustration of the planned block viewed from Sewardstone Road, looking north. Credit: Sewardstone Holdings Limited

Plans for an eight-storey block of flats in Chingford have been approved despite concerns about the amount of affordable housing.

Developers Kishorkumar Popat and Santukbai Patel applied to build 40 flats in a block between three and eight storeys tall on the corner of Sewardstone Road and Kings Head Hill.

According to terms agreed with Waltham Forest’s planning department about 27% of the development will be classed as “affordable” by habitable room – a total of nine flats.

Planning officer Kelvin Bathie said an analysis of the development’s finances, known as a financial viability assessment,  showed that hitting the council’s 50% affordable target was “clearly not going to be affordable”.

According to the assessment, which included a 20% profit on the market rent flats and 15% profit on the ground floor commercial units, the development would have a “deficit” of £215,000 with the agreed level of affordable housing.

Bathie said the development’s finances had been “rigorously tested” and showed “signs of stress” even with this amount of affordable housing, which will include six social rent flats and three shared-ownership.

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He added that during construction the council will review the scheme’s costs to see whether profit estimates have changed.

Committee member Marie Pye said she remained “concerned” about the affordable housing share and encouraged council planning officers to be “robust” when they review developers’ finances.

Committee chair Jenny Gray agreed, but added that council staff “do try their very, very best”.

She said: “I’m on that all the time I assure you, to get as much affordable housing as possible, however, if viability says it has to be 22.5% [by home in the development], which it is in this case, and we refuse it, it is going to be allowed on appeal – because this has happened before.

“And we might not get any affordable housing, and in the present climate without anything being built and construction coming to a halt nationwide, it is very important that we do pursue affordable housing – but we can’t be unrealistic with what we’re demanding because there is a desperate need for affordable housing.”

The committee’s four Labour members voted in favour of the plans.

Conservative committee member Emma Best, who was substituting for regular member and fellow Conservative John Moss, did not vote or participate in the decision due to her public campaigning against the scheme.

Other terms agreed with the developer include a £25,000 contribution towards a consultation on introducing a controlled parking zone on nearby Drysdale Road and Mansfield Hill.

Cllr Pye dismissed concerns about the size of the block, raised by local councillor Mitchell Goldie, as “not a big issue”.

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