The site at 8-10 Broadway in Westminster was sold just before the 2016 mayoral election by the previous mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who allowed planning permission to be granted for a development offering a £10m payment and only 10 affordable homes – 4% of all units.
Developer BL Developments then sought to increase the total number of homes by 27 – from 268 to 295 – with no increase in the number of affordable units or payment in lieu, which would have resulted in the level of affordable housing falling to 3%.
Shortly after becoming mayor, Mr Khan instructed City Hall’s planners to recruit a team of viability experts to scrutinise the level of affordable housing in all planning applications referred to him.
“The scheme put forward for this site is simply unacceptable: it fails to provide the maximum amount of affordable housing that could be delivered on this landmark site, and follows a previous application in which the affordable housing provision agreed by the previous mayor was already appallingly low,” said Mr Khan.
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“It beggars belief that the initial application was approved under the previous mayor with a paltry 4% affordable housing, just days before the mayoral election.”
Mr Khan said that the site had only recently been transferred from public ownership and was in one of the most expensive areas of the country.
“Having carefully considered the evidence available to me, I have decided to refuse permission for this amended application.
“This comes just a few weeks after the outrageous decision to cut the level of affordable housing at Battersea Power Station and I am more determined than ever to do all I can to ensure Londoners are not short-changed when it comes to developers doing their bit to help tackle London’s housing crisis.
“The government now needs to show it is committed to this too and devolve the powers to help me stop developers getting away with unacceptably low levels of affordable housing.”
Earlier this year, the mayor of London published his supplementary planning guidance on viability and affordable housing, which stated that developers offering at least 35% affordable housing without public subsidy could expect a quicker, more certain route through the planning system.