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‘Landmark’ planning case sees Holloway development halted

High Court backs the Town Hall over number of affordable homes after planning clash with developers

04 May, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

The former Territorial Army base in Holloway – developers bought the site from the Ministry of Defence for £13.25million in 2013

THE Town Hall has won a “landmark” planning case over the level of affordable homes on a vast property development in Holloway.

Developers have been looking to build up to 150 homes at the former Territorial Army base in Parkhurst Road since buying the site in 2013 for £13.25million from the Ministry of Defence.

Parkhurst Road Limited originally proposed to include no affordable housing, but after the council rejected the application they agreed to 10 per cent – which the council also declined.

After two public inquiries, the developer launched a legal challenge at the High Court, which has now sided with Islington Council and said the planning inspector was right to dismiss the developer’s appeal.

Housing campaigners have welcomed the judgment, which hung on viability assessments arguing because of the price paid for the land it could not afford to provide more affordable homes.

A Parkhurst Road Limited spokesman told the Tribune it was “too early” to say whether plans for a reduced 96 homes would proceed and it was currently reviewing its “options” for the site.

Marj Mayo, a nearby resident and campaigner for Islington Homes for All, said: “I do think there’s been increasing upset about developers agreeing on one thing and councils rolling over. But I’m so proud Islington hasn’t.”

The Town Hall said the decision “reinforces” what it has argued for years – that affordable housing requirements cannot be “bypassed” by using the “dark art” of viability assessments to get around planning policy requirements.

It requires developers to provide the “maximum reasonable” amount of affordable housing on a site, with 50 per cent being the starting point. Anything lower requires “robust” justification.

The council has spent £37,000 on defending its position, £16,000 on internal legal costs and the rest on counsels’ fees. About 35 per cent of this will be recovered.

Judge Justice David Holgate also recommended the widely used guidance on viability assessments by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors should be revised.

RICS said it was already reviewing this, pending a government review of national planning guidance.

A spokesman for Parkhurst Road Limited said: “We are disappointed with the High Court’s decision. We acquired the site from the Ministry of Defence through a competitive bidding process in 2013, and our approach to viability was previously approved by the Planning Inspectorate at appeal in 2015.

“Our track record in Islington speaks for itself – all our schemes deliver a significant amount of affordable homes and jobs that help build thriving mixed communities.”

The council said in a statement: “This decision reinforces Islington Council’s long-standing position that developers should abide by the council’s planning guidelines – rather than overpaying for land and then trying to bypass our affordable housing requirements.”

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