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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Controversy over redevelopment of vacant car wash into flats with no affordable housing

A plan to turn a vacant North London car wash into 13 new flats would provide no affordable housing as having any would make the project ‘unviable’ for developers. If approved, the four-storey block will make people feel ‘hemmed in and claustrophobic’, according to one local resident.

Harrow Council’s planning committee are set to decide whether to give the go ahead to a development of a brownfield site at 395 Kenton Lane, which would see the former car wash turned into flats, alongside two commercial units on the ground floor.

The applicant claims the development will go ‘towards the housing shortfall’ in the borough, as well as the housing targets on small sites, and has been recommended for approval by council officers. Harrow has a borough-side affordable housing target of 40 per cent on new homes delivered up to 2026, however, an independent assessment found that there is a deficit in the scheme of £86, 413 meaning it is ‘unable to support’ any.

The officer report states: “The council recognises that it may not be viable to provide affordable housing targets within a scheme under all circumstances. Where this cannot be provided on site, a robust viability assessment must be provided to demonstrate that the proposed scheme cannot viably provide this requirement.”

It adds: “An Affordable Housing Viability Review prepared by Montagu Evans has been submitted with the application and concludes that the development is unable to viably provide any affordable housing. […] Officers consider the scale of the development would limit the possibility for appropriate affordable housing to be delivered on site, and it is unlikely any registered social landlords would take on modest, ad-hoc housing in private blocks.”

Alongside the two ground floor commercial units will be one self-contained flat, with the remaining 12 flats spread across the three upper floors and comprising two one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom apartments. There will also be 11 car parking spaces, 32 cycle spaces, and the installation of a 2.1m high access gate.

A total of 80 consultation letters were sent out ahead of the application being submitted, which revealed just one objection. The resident feels that there has been over-development in the area, which has increased the traffic and number of people relying on the local infrastructure.

They said: “This development would again increase the number of residents in a small area, putting pressure on car parking and schools etc. Currently the only building is low level and building on the site would create a more hemmed-in, claustrophobic feeling, especially with the building  opposite being so high too.”

However, officers said the plans are not considered to be detrimental to the local infrastructure and are ‘unlikely to cause significant harm’ to the surrounding roads. The report states: “The proposal would contribute towards housing stock within the borough and the principle of redeveloping the site in order to provide additional residential accommodation is considered acceptable.

It adds: “Furthermore, it is considered that the proposal would not have an unduly harmful impact on the character of the surrounding area, or the residential amenities of the neighbouring or future occupiers and the design is considered to be sympathetic to the character of the local area.”

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