Residential redevelopment to be pushed through by London mayor
Plans to redevelop the former headquarters of the National Institute for Medical Research in north London are to go ahead after all, following the intervention of the capital's mayor Sadiq Khan.
The scheme by Barratt's to redevelop the building to create 460 homes had originally been denied planning permission by Barnet Council against the recommendations of its own planning officers, due to the fact that part of the development in Mill Hill - which proposed establishing all-weather sports pitches for the local authority to use - would encroach on green belt land.
However, Mr Khan has used his powers to push the application through, something his predecessor Boris Johnson often did.
It means that insulation fitters and shower room waterproofing installers will be very busy as a large block of offices and laboratories is transformed into hundreds of homes for families and individuals.
The news means Barratt can push ahead with the redevelopment work, but Mr Khan's approval comes with strings attached. The original plan would only allow for 92 of the homes - 20 per cent - to be 'affordable', a figure Mr Khan has required be doubled. This means that when the development is finished, 185 of the properties will be affordable, with 131 available for part ownership and 54 for social rent.
Mr Khan said: "Delivering more of the genuinely affordable homes Londoners need is one of my top priorities as Mayor and I will use all the tools at my disposal to do so."
Having made the issue a key element of his campaign for the post, Mr Khan has used his time in office so far to crack down on attempts by developers to shirk their responsibilities over affordable homes, which often takes the form of viability studies claiming a return on investment will be jeopardised by the lower profits caused by making large numbers of homes in a scheme affordable.