Revised London homes scheme backed by mayor

Revised London homes scheme backed by mayor

The redevelopment of the former National Institute for Medical Research buildings in Mill Hill is to go ahead after all, following the intervention of London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Mr Khan has said the project can proceed provided the number of homes in the scheme that are affordable is raised from 20 per cent to 40 per cent.

This means that the Barratt's development of 460 properties will now include 185 affordable homes, of which 131 will be for shared ownership and 54 for social rent.

In addition, the scheme will also include the building of adjacent leisure facilities including several all-weather sports pitches, which will be given over to the council for community use.

This latter aspect of the scheme had originally led to Barnet Council rejecting the whole project against the recommendation of its own planning officers, due to the fact that the pitches encroached on green belt land. However, it was called in by Mr Khan, who has the power to overrule local authority decisions. His predecessor Boris Johnson took similar action on numerous occasions during his two terms in office. 

Mr Khan's actions also reflect his desire to ensure there is more affordable housing in the capital. He said: "Delivering more of the genuinely affordable homes Londoners need is one of my top priorities as Mayor and I will use all the tools at my disposal to do so."

The issue of affordable housing was a central feature of the London mayor's successful election campaign last year. His work has included an investigation into the ways developers have used viability studies and other ruses to try to get around their responsibilities to build more affordable homes. Instead, he has held firm on a stipulation that developments should be at least 35 per cent affordable.  

London's average house price remains way ahead of the average both on an individual property cost basis and in terms of comparative size.

In the latter case, research by Halifax in the summer found property prices per square metre in London have risen by 402 per cent in the last 20 years, compared with 236 per cent in England as a whole.