Strategy for meeting new homes target unveiled
A consultation will be held on a plan designed to shape development in Barnet as the borough faces a 15-year target of building more than 35,000 homes.
The draft Local Plan, which sets out the council’s vision for growth and development from 2021 to 2036, was approved for consultation at a meeting of the policy and resources committee on Wednesday.
Forming the basis on which councillors decide on planning applications, the document includes 52 policies – up from 34 in the previous plan – and identifies 66 sites that could be used to provide homes.
The minimum housing target set for Barnet under the mayor’s London Plan is 35,460 over the 15-year period – 2,364 new homes every year.
Council leader Dan Thomas told the meeting the document – drawn up following an earlier public consultation – now included a policy to restrict the overconcentration of gambling premises and how close they can be to schools.
It comes after the council faced calls to tighten up its policies when a decision to refuse an application for a gambling venue was overturned by a planning inspector.
But Lib Dem councillor Gabriel Rozenberg, who campaigned for tighter policies around gambling premises, said he was not convinced the Local Plan would be sufficient to stop future planning refusals being overturned.
“[The policy] is focusing on clustering,” he said. “It is not as much as clustering – it’s whether we want to have adult gaming centres in the centre of our neighbourhoods or not.”
Cllr Thomas said resisting the proliferation of adult gaming centres, as well as their concentration, was in the policy, so he felt that had been covered by the plan.
Neeru Kareer, the council’s assistant service director for planning and building control, told councillors she felt officers had gone as far as they could on the adult gaming centre policy.
Labour group leader Barry Rawlings raised concerns over the definition of affordable housing set out in the local plan.
Cllr Rawlings said the council seemed to be accepting the government’s definition of affordable housing, which he claimed was not affordable in Barnet.
He added that the London Plan defined affordable housing in a different way and suggested it should be followed more closely.
Neeru said the Local Plan needed to be in conformity with the London Plan, and the Greater London Authority had not raised any issues with the council’s approach.
She added that definitions are often set out in supplementary planning documents, and there was scope to look at the local evidence on discounted products.
But Cllr Rawlings said: “I think there is a lot more work we need to do about defining, in a proper way, affordable housing. My concern is the local plan will debar us from having that flexibility to ensure that affordable means affordable.”
Cllr Thomas indicated there would be further discussion on the issue and claimed developments were already coming forward with “a decent amount” of affordable homes.
Following the debate, Labour refused to back the plan because of concerns over affordable housing and policies around tall buildings. Cllr Rozenberg abstained, but the Local Plan was approved for consultation on the back of Conservative votes.