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Hill House: Communities secretary dodges question about 150 luxury flats being built in Archway with none affordable

PUBLISHED: 13:09 09 April 2018

Sajid Javid speaks to a passer-by while being interviewed by the Ham& High in Finchley Road. Picture: Harry Taylor

Sajid Javid speaks to a passer-by while being interviewed by the Ham& High in Finchley Road. Picture: Harry Taylor

Harry Taylor

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has refused to say whether a law that allowed a new luxury flat complex in Archway to be created without any affordable flats should be axed.

Sajid Javid, who has held the office – which includes oversight of housing – since 2016, told the Gazette: “There’s not a single way to deliver the affordable housing we need in London. It would be better to look at it overall, in terms of the delivery of affordable housing.

“Across the country we’ve seen 257,000 affordable houses for rent. More council houses have been built in England since 2010 than were built under the Labour government.”

As reported on this newspaper’s front page last week, the 13-storey office block in Hill House, next to the Tube station, will be turned into 141 luxury flats, with an extension providing another nine.

The developer, Bode, was able to dodge the need to deliver any affordable housing in the conversion because it used to be an office block. “Permitted development” rules mean switching from office space to housing doesn’t require planning permission, which would otherwise be granted only on the condition of affordable housing being included. The nine-flat extension also won’t be affordable, though because it involves new building it did have to go through planners, and a small sum will accordingly be given back to the council to build affordable housing elsewhere.

Mr Javid blamed mayor of London Sadiq Khan for the lack of affordable housing built in the capital.

“What is failing London in terms of housing is Sadiq Khan,” he said. “As mayor of London, has more powers than any other mayor in the country.

“He said his target was going to be 50,000 affordable houses a year – he is barely touching 30,000. We have seen house starts fall during his first year by 20 per cent.

“In his first year as mayor, the GLA [Greater London Authority] hasn’t started a single social house unit for rent.

“We’ve seen him talk the walk, but he doesn’t deliver.”

A spokeswoman from Islington Council last week said: “Changes to permitted development rules seek to erode the power of planning authorities to protect office space and secure affordable homes and other benefits.

“When developers are able to bypass the planning process, homes are often poor quality and do not meet the council’s space standards.”

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