The first time a Mayor or Minister calls in a planning application is always likely to be taken as a statement of intent.
Sadiq Khan’s decision to call in two applications rejected by councillors on design grounds because of their potential to deliver affordable housing, one in Tottenham Hale and one in Wealdstone, is therefore interesting. He notes the developments:
“have the potential to bring real benefits as part of the wider regeneration, including hundreds of genuinely affordable new homes. However, each proposal needs work if they are to realise that potential.”
This comes as no surprise: Mr Khan’s manifesto included a pledge to call in applications “where planning has stalled, and where opportunities to deliver new and affordable housing are missed.”
It is also interesting to note that both of the local authorities concerned, Harrow and Haringey, are located in outer London and controlled by Labour. The former reflects the direction of travel for development in London: the outer ring of boroughs will increasingly be expected to play their part in meeting London’s housing need. In some cases, this will inevitably throw up conflict around impact on the Green Belt.
The latter meanwhile may indicate a commitment to meeting these goals above narrower party concerns. This would be a welcome answer to perceptions of partisanship in the use of call-in powers.
So far, then, all as expected for London’s new Mayor. Whether it will be enough to meet his pledge that 50% of all new housing in London will be affordable remains to be seen.