The first development from Redbridge Council’s own housebuilding company was given planning permission last night despite “barely meeting” the requirement for affordable housing.

The two tower blocks planned for Clements Road in Ilford, one 10-storeys and the other 11-storeys, will replace disused council offices with 94 homes.

Of these, 24 homes will be available for London Affordable Rent - or £155.13 for a one-bed flat - while 10 will be “community land trust” homes, managed by a charity and priced according to average local earnings.

This means that 36 per cent of the development will be affordable housing, slightly higher than the 35 per cent minimum required by the council’s policy but short of their target of 50 per cent.

This is the first housing project to be delivered by Redbridge Living Ltd, an independent company set up and owned by the council since late 2018.

Read more: Ilford tower block with just 11 per cent affordable housing approved

Cllr Paul Canal (Con, Bridge) questioned why the development only just met the minimum target when the council owns both the land and the developer.

He told the committee: “If I ran this past the hundred or so people on the Clapham omnibus, they would shake their heads in abject horror.

“The housing crisis is particularly pressing in Redbridge, which historically has a low number of council homes.

“The planning committee in the past has quite rightly taken some developers to task for not having come up with the appropriate level of affordable homes. It does seem to be remiss that we choose that it does not apply to us.”

He added that London Affordable Rent, unlike “social rent” homes which are set at 60 per cent of the market value, can still be unaffordable for many.

The argument for the development

The council’s planning officer Catherine Zhandire said that a financial viability assessment, reviewed by an independent viability assessor, had confirmed that 36 per cent affordable units was “the maximum that the developer can afford”.

She added that the council “has an obligation to deliver housing for our communities” and that the proposal was considered “on balance, to be acceptable”.

Redbridge Council currently has the worst track record for housebuilding of any local authority in London and the third worst in the country.

Speaking for the applicant, Oliver Sanderson said: “It’s the view of the applicant that 36 per cent affordable housing is the most viable and provides the most true affordable units.

“Shared ownership would mean higher viability but they won’t remain affordable in perpetuity. These units are tied to local income levels and are going to remain affordable.

“Should the scheme be able to produce some further uplift at a later stage, this will be returned to the council.”

London Community Land Trust board member Dr John Clifton commented on Twitter following the decision that it was “a significant milestone” and “very exciting”.

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal has previously pledged to deliver 250 Community Land Trust homes across Redbridge.

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