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Appeal: Javid allows 683-home Sainsbury’s scheme with 4% affordable housing

Sainsbury's / iStock: 458352021

Sajid Javid has approved plans submitted by Sainsbury’s to build 683 homes as part of its Ilford superstore redevelopment with just 4 per cent affordable housing provision.

The appeal concerned plans submitted by Sainsbury’s for a mixed-use redevelopment of its Ilford superstore in East London, just beyond the North Circular road. The scheme sought permission for 683 residential units on the site across nine blocks, as well as additional retail space and parking, an energy plant, and a new supermarket with 4,745 square metres of retail space.

Redbridge Borough Council refused the scheme primarily for its offer of just 4 per cent affordable housing provision – equivalent to 27 units – which falls well short of the borough-wide strategic target for 50 per cent of all new residential development to be designated affordable. Sainsbury’s provoked anger from local people by responding that its affordable housing offer was the maximum it could viably contribute because of the project’s “financially challenging” nature, blamed partly on revenue losses from having to close its existing store during construction.

The appeal was recovered by communities secretary Sajid Javid in December 2016. Before the inquiry, the council withdrew its opposition to the scheme, having reached “common ground” with the applicant based on its financial viability evidence. A local group called ‘Neighbourhoods of Ilford South Engage’ (NOISE) appeared at the inquiry to oppose the plans in the council’s place after being granted Rule 6 status.

In his report, Javid accepted that the appellant’s offer of 4 per cent “appeared low at first sight”, falling considerably short of local and national targets. However, having considered the detailed financial evidence presented at the inquiry, he ruled that there was “no good reason to dispute the conclusions of financial experts” who had agreed that the appellant’s offer was the maximum that could viably be provided.

Addressing the other issues raised at the inquiry, Javid agreed with inspector David Wildsmith’s finding that although the scheme would “further visually enclose” the nearby grade II* listed Ilford Hospital Chapel, the harm caused would be “at the lower end of ‘less than substantial’."

Noting that 87 per cent of rooms would receive “adequate daylight”, Javid considered this a “high degree of compliance” that would be acceptable given the constraints of the site. He accepted that some residents would be faced with an unpleasant choice between opening their windows to relieve overheating and closing them to block out external noise, but considered this would only be applicable in occasional peak summer periods.

In the planning balance, Javid noted that the scheme would deliver 60 per cent of the borough’s annual housing target in a single scheme, as well as providing an economic boost for the area. He agreed with Wildsmith that the scheme’s design would be “stylish and well proportioned”. He was also satisfied that the agreed community infrastructure levy (CIL) of £11.4 million would cover the scheme’s impact on local infrastructure and services. 

Concluding that the scheme’s public benefits significantly outweighed its harm to the listed chapel and conflict with the local development plan, he allowed the appeal.

The secretary of state’s decision – case reference 3164036 – can be read here.

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