Hospital charity lodges appeal after its proposal to cut affordable homes on Cleveland Street site was rejected by council planners

The site on Cleveland Street. Photograph: Linus Rees

A charity has lodged an appeal to the planning inspectorate after Camden Council rejected its plans to cut the number of social homes on the Middlesex Hospital annex and former workhouse site.

In December, the Town Hall’s planning committee rejected UCLH Charity’s request to cut the number of social homes for rent at the Cleveland Street site from 36 to 13 and increase the number for sale on the open market from 13 to 40.

The charity raises funds to support patients, staff and ground-breaking research at University College Hospital London.

Without these changes it said the plan was no longer viable because of the challenges and costs development.

The council “strongly opposed” this.

The charity said there was a “limit to the loss” it could sustain and could no longer run to 40 affordable homes.

The charity’s development director Peter Burroughs told a December planning committee that the scheme “has become substantially unviable” even with no affordable housing provided.

He said the charity was prepared to build 17 affordable homes and “carry that loss” and if circumstances change it could increase the number.

The scheme was initially given planning permission in 2019 to build 53 homes — including 36 at social rent, four at intermediate rent, and 13 to sell at market rate.

It keeps the 18th-century Strand Union Workhouse building and creates a new block with homes, healthcare facilities and public open space on the site of the now demolished 19th-century hospital wings.

The public inquiry is the latest stage in the planning saga.

In 2004, there was a Section 106 agreement that a “backstop” minimum of 30 affordable homes had to be built on the site by 2010 or Camden Council could serve legal papers asking the NHS to transfer the land to it for £1. This would allow the council to develop it for affordable housing itself.

The council claims this legal clause still stands but the charity says the agreement has lapsed.

In 2017, permission was given for a scheme including 30 social homes, but this was later amended.

At last December’s meeting, planning committee member Cllr Danny Beales said the charity was “deprioritising social housing”.

The application to cut the amount of affordable homes was unanimously rejected.

A report for the committee stated: “Given that the 2017 scheme was skewed heavily in favour of social-affordable rented units, and these have the greatest demand, the council would not wish to see this ratio reduced.”

The planning inquiry will be heard on 18 October and evidence has to be submitted to the inspector by mid-September.

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