London towers approved despite affordable housing policy breach

Colin Marrs
30 Apr 2019

Westminster City Council has approved plans for two towers at the Paddington Basin development, despite the scheme not meeting affordable housing policy requirements.

The council’s major applications planning sub-committee this week gave the go-ahead for the housing and mixed-use scheme, proposed by Merchant Square Residential, which would provide 67 affordable homes out of a total of 426 residential units overall (15.7 per cent).

The council said that consultants it appointed had carried out a review of a viability assessment submitted with the application, and concluded that the scheme could not feasibly provide a higher level of affordable homes.

An officer report presented to the committee said: "The planning benefits of the scheme include, but are not limited to, the provision of 67 on-site affordable housing units and whilst this quantum of affordable housing falls below the quantum expected by adopted and emerging development plan policies, it has been concluded through robust independent review of the applicant’s viability assessment that this is the maximum provision that can viably be achieved, having regard to the constraints upon the viability of the development, which includes a significant mayoral and Westminster CIL liability."

The council will impose early and late stage viability reviews through a section 106 agreement, in an attempt to capture additional affordable housing.

The scheme, on a 0.63 hectare site, is a reconfiguration of existing planning permissions. It keeps the height of one tower at 42 storeys, while the new permission raises the height of the other tower from 15 to 21 storeys.

Benefits provided by the scheme, the council said, included the creation of retail and leisure floorspace, new open space and improvements to the public realm.

The officer report noted that the scheme of is strategic scale, and therefore permission is subject to the concurrence of the mayor.

Earlier this month, City of London Corporation approved plans for what would become the second tallest building in Europe - ‘The Tulip’ - which would stand 305 metres tall.

This story was published in our sister publication, Planning, (planningresource.com) on 26 April 2019.

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