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‘Nothing in planning matters’: Wandsworth leader hits back as London mayor intervenes

A war of words has broken out between the London mayor and Wandsworth council over a decision to increase the number of affordable homes in a new development.

Sadiq Khan announced this week that he has used his planning powers to overturn a decision by the local authority over a proposed new development on a site in Swandon Way.

The council refused planning permission for the re-development on the site in April, on the grounds that the original proposals were too tall, overbearing and in the wrong place.

At the time, the development included 23% affordable housing, or 84 of the total 348 homes proposed in the scheme.

The mayor subsequently ‘called in’ the plans, has now granted planning permission and increased the proportion of affordable homes to 35%, with 136 of the 385 homes in the approved plans classed as affordable.

Mr Khan has also agreed a review mechanism, which could see the number of affordable homes increase if an agreed level of progress is not made on the development within two years.

‘I’ve made it clear I am committed to increasing the delivery of genuinely affordable housing in London, especially given the pitiful legacy I inherited, and I will use my full range of planning powers to achieve this,’ said the London mayor.

‘This development offers a significant number of high quality homes in a location which offers great transport links and local amenities. We have confirmed more than half of the affordable homes will be delivered up front in the first stage of construction.’

But the leader of Wandsworth council, Ravi Govindia accused the mayor of riding ‘roughshod over the views of Wandsworth residents’ and the local authority’s own planning committee.

‘Planning committees across London should be afraid, very afraid. The message from City Hall is that nothing in planning matters other than how much housing is approved – never mind the height, design or impact on neighbourhoods,’ said Mr Govindia in a statement.

‘The application was rightly turned down by Wandsworth – twice – because it was felt that this development was in the wrong location and was too high and too bulky,’ added the council leader.

‘This was a view shared by hundreds of residents and the local amenity society. The mayor’s decision completely undermines our ability to decide what is appropriate for our communities and ignores the views of local people.’

The council leader added that the local authority already works hard to get affordable housing and ‘indeed the mayor himself has already cited Wandsworth as an excellent example of council house building’.

‘In rejecting this application, the planning committee had sensibly weighed up the need for development with consideration for how appropriate the application was to the area. However, the mayor’s planning team has now negotiated with the developer, without any input from the council, and overturned our decision,’ said Mr Govindia.

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