Redbridge councillors were unable to decide whether to let the council’s own company build homes on a former school this month.

Members of the council’s planning committee discussed plans to build 159 homes on the former Hyleford School site on Loxford Lane for hours at a meeting on October 15.

The council’s building company, Redbridge Living Ltd, wants permission to build 17 houses and 144 flats in blocks of up to seven storeys, as well as a car park with almost 100 spaces.

However, after debating until around 11pm, largely about the amount of affordable homes, councillors voted to postpone making the decision until another day.

'They are determined to blight the borough'

Cllr Paul Canal (Con, Bridge) argued 35 per cent affordable housing in a council-controlled development was “not only unacceptable” but “scandalous”.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting, he said: “The Labour administration seem to have one set of rules for their pet schemes and another for outside developers.

“They are determined to blight the borough with poorly built modern slums, ignore affordable housing thresholds on their own schemes and refuse to support family homes, preferring squalid flats.”

Cllr Vanisha Solanki (Lab, Fullwell) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the decision was deferred because “councillors are taking each development seriously”.

She added: “Even if it is a council application, we don’t rubber stamp them.”

Company 'cannot provide any more affordable housing'

The Greater London Authority expects all new developments to be at least half made up of affordable homes wherever financially possible.

However, a report prepared for the committee states Redbridge Living Ltd “cannot provide any more affordable housing” without losing money.

The development as proposed would have 31 homes available at London Affordable Rent, which is around £155 per week for a one-bed, ranging up to £200 a week for six or more beds.

There would be a further 21 Community Land Trust homes, which are homes that can only ever be sold at a price that reflects the average income in the area.

Cllr Solanki also expressed concerns about changes to the planning process proposed by the Conservative government, adding these would “hand all the power to developers”.

Read more: Planning changes could mean 'free for all' for Redbridge developers

The changes would see land divided into three categories - “growth”, “renewal” and “protected” - with developments for homes, schools or hospitals on “growth” land automatically allowed.

While these changes would apply to all local authorities, Redbridge Council is expected to lose additional powers next month as punishment for failing the Government’s Housing Delivery Test.

The London Plan requires Redbridge Council to deliver at least 1,123 new homes every year but the borough is currently achieving less than two thirds of this figure.

As a result, from next month the committee may have to automatically allow all developments unless the harms “significantly and demonstrably” outweigh the benefits.

At the same meeting, councillors allowed a development of 71 flats in three blocks ranging from two to four storeys, where only 20 will be affordable.

The next planning meeting is not scheduled until November 19.

Redbridge Council was contacted about Cllr Canal's comments but has yet to respond.

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