Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been criticised after he approved controversial plans to build 168 homes in Wandsworth.
In April, Wandsworth Council's planning committee rejected the plans for a large-scale mixed-use development of up to 14 storeys high in Osiers Road.
More than 350 people objected to the plans during the scheme’s various phases of consultationMany objections focused on the scale, size and bulk of the proposed towers, which people complained would be on too small a site, overbearing and excessive.
The designs were also said to lack architectural merit, be out of keeping with their surroundings and described as “piecemeal and chaotic”, resulting in a significant loss of light, outlook and visual amenity.
Although town hall officials had recommended approval, councillors from both parties voted to reject the plans – on the grounds that “the proposed development by reason of its scale, siting, mass, and layout would be an inappropriate and unneighbourly development, resulting in an unduly dominant proposal which would be out of keeping with the surroundings and detrimental to the streetscape, resulting in undue harm to the amenity of neighbouring properties, including a sense of enclosure and a loss of light and outlook.”
Following this rejection, the Mayor called in the scheme in June in order to subject it to further scrutiny.Then on Friday last week, the Mayor granted the development planning consent.
The council’s planning chief, Cllr Guy Humphries has criticised that decision.
"We rejected this application because we listened to the views of local people who had reasonable and legitimate objections to this development," he said.
“What the Mayor has effectively said today to locally elected planning committee members across London is that you should not disagree with planning officers to support your residents’ concerns.
"His approach takes decision making away from people’s representatives who are accountable at the ballot box and hands it to unelected officials.
“This interference in local decision making is difficult to comprehend given that the Mayor himself has confirmed that Wandsworth is playing a pivotal role in providing the new homes London needs."
The development will see 55 per cent (93 homes) be shared ownership while 45 per cent (75 homes) will be available at social rent levels.
Mr Khan said: Sadiq Khan, said: “This development will provide a significant number of much-needed new social rented and other genuinely affordable homes in an area where supply has consistently failed to meet targets.
“I’m clear that I will use all the levers at my disposal to increase the delivery of new genuinely affordable homes across the capital.
“Since I called this application in for further scrutiny, my team has been successful in ensuring every new home in this development will be genuinely affordable. The design is high quality and includes commercial space which will have a positive impact on the local economy.
“As such, having considered all the evidence available to me, I’ve decided to approve this development.”
The development will also include 384 cycle parking spaces.
Photo: An artist's impression of the controversial tower blocks now approved by the Mayor