Posted: 02.10.20 at 09:51 by Sian Bayley, Local Democracy Reporter
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has granted permission for the redevelopment of the Homebase site on Manor Road, which will provide more than 450 new homes.
Mr Khan criticised Richmond Council for still having “a long way to go to deliver on the affordable housing targets as set out in the London plan.”
Speaking at an online public representation hearing at City Hall yesterday (Thursday, October 1) the Mayor granted permission for the new plans which will see 453 homes built on the site, of which 173 will be affordable.
• 84 will be at London Affordable Rent
• 55 at London Living Rent
• 34 will be Shared Ownership Units.
Existing buildings will be demolished and replaced with buildings between four and 11 storeys tall.
He said: “This site is well-connected, under-utilised, previously developed land that is exactly the kind of site we need to intensify if we are to develop in a sustainable manner, protect the green belt, and deliver the homes Londoners need.”
There will also be retail, community and office space, as well as car and cycle parking and some private and open spaces.
The original site plans included 385 homes in a smaller development of between four and nine storeys.
The plans were rejected by Richmond Council’s planning committee last year due to the lack of affordable housing, and the “intrusive” design and scale of the development.
It was then called in by the Mayor of London in a bid for more affordable housing, and residents were consulted between August and September this year.
The GLA received 1,104 objections, and just one letter of support.
Objectors included three Richmond councillors, the Kew Society, the Richmond Society and MP Sarah Olney, who wrote to Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, asking him to call in the Homebase application if it was approved by the Mayor.
Speaking at today’s hearing, Lucy Thatcher, Strategic Applications Manager from Richmond Council, said the council was concerned that the scheme would impact upon five different character areas surrounding the site.
The council contended that the scheme has a “wholly inadequate transition along the south and west boundaries with blocks B, C and D rising to seven to 11 storeys adjacent to two and three storey residential and commercial properties, some of which are heritage assets.”
It said this resulted “in an overwhelming wall of development that shows no recognition to the height disjunction and a complete disregard to the low-rise scale it surrounds”.
Residents also raised concerns about loss of light, the lack of affordable family homes and fears public transport and infrastructure in the area will not be able to cope with nearly 1,000 new residents.
Cllr Richard Warren, representing North Richmond ward said the number of objections “speak for themselves”.
“Yes we want more homes, but what is being offered here is far short of what is actually needed,” he said.
Mr Khan contended that Richmond has not built enough affordable housing recently, adding: “Unless you start having high-density mixed-use developments next to a station, I don’t know where your borough is going to find them.”
More than 4,000 people are currently on Richmond’s council housing waiting list.
Nick Alston, from Avison Young, the planning consultant for the applicant Avanton Richmond Developments Limited told the Mayor that the provision of 173 affordable homes, “is the maximum that the scheme can reasonably provide”.
He added: “This will have a transformative effect on access to affordable housing in the borough, it’s the same as the total number of new affordable homes that have been delivered in the entire borough over the past three years.”
He said work will start “immediately” after the site is vacated by Homebase, expected to be in six months, and that the whole scheme could be finished within three years.
The first phase is expected to finish 18 months after work starts on site, and will provide all of the London Affordable Rent homes.
Concluding the meeting, Mr Khan said: “Delivering affordable homes has always been one of my top priorities and the current Covid-19 pandemic challenges our ambitious target like never before.
“Planning has a crucial role to play in delivering housing and infrastructure that will ensure that London recovers as soon as possible, generating new employment opportunities, affordable homes and supporting local communities.”