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Islington Council claims victory in battle over 'affordable rent' as Berkeley Homes drops £4 million demand

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Islington Council claims victory in battle over 'affordable rent' as Berkeley Homes drops £4 million demand

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government

Islington Council claims victory in battle over 'affordable rent' as Berkeley Homes drops 4 million demand Islington Council claims victory in battle over 'affordable rent' as Berkeley Homes drops 4 million demand

Islington Council has claimed a minor victory in its battle against 'affordable rent' housing in the borough after a deal was struck with developer Berkeley Homes over its 1,000-home City Forum scheme.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson called in the City Forum development in December last year after Islington council officers refused the application over concerns about the affordable housing element.

The scheme, which was given formal approval this week, comprises two tower blocks of 42- and 36-storeys in an area already designated by Islington Council as suitable for locating a cluster of tall buildings. The development will include 995 homes, 30% of which have been designated as 'affordable'. There will also be a 190-room hotel, a crèche, retail and office space. It is expected that the development will lead to the creation of more than 1,000 jobs.

According to the council, following the call-in, Berkeley had demanded over £4 million from the local authority to secure the ‘affordable rent’ homes at ‘target' (i.e. social) rents. But after negotiations with the council, this demand was later dropped, with the homes being provided at social rent levels without subsidy.

However, the ‘target rent’ limit may only apply to the first letting of the new homes, so the council will be pushing the mayor to use the detail of the planning permission to keep these rents down in the long run.

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing, said: "We are very disappointed by the mayor’s decision – he has waved this development through and let down people in Islington. We think the Mayor has been fooled by the developers who are going to make a lot of money from this scheme, and who we believe could provide many more genuinely-affordable homes for Londoners on this site."

The council also expressed disappointment that the mayor swept aside concerns that the scheme does not provide inclusive access for disabled people and will have negative impacts on the quality of life for local people.

The mayor has also taken credit for the 'target rent' element of the scheme, saying his team negotiated with Berkeley Homes to ensure the developer funded the 144 homes itself.

At the representation hearing this week, the developer also agreed to build the affordable homes early in the construction process and committed to make substantial progress on the scheme within two years.

Boris Johnson said: “London is enjoying an unprecedented population boom and by 2030 will become the first city in Europe to be home to 10 million people. Building new homes and creating more jobs is absolutely crucial so that we can ensure this growth is sustainable.”

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