Nearly 600 new homes will be built alongside a new public park, 175 new trees and 29 tennis courts of open spaces on the Woodberry Down Estate after plans were again approved by the Council’s Planning Committee.

The proposals for the third phase of the regeneration of the estate will see nearly double the number of new homes for social rent built compared to original plans – with existing secure Council tenants guaranteed a move into them. Local residents have recently reiterated their support for the plans.

The Planning Committee first approved the phase – which includes 117 homes for social rent and 126 for shared ownership – in April, subject to confirming Section 106 obligations, which set out the contributions that the developer must pay and control levels of affordable housing, and a decision from the Mayor of London. 

However, as these were still outstanding when the Council adopted its new Local Plan – which sets the overall planning policy framework for the borough – in July, the plans needed to be reconsidered by the committee against the new policies last night. 

After last night’s decision, the application will be sent to the Mayor of London for approval, and Section 106 obligations with developer Berkeley Homes will be finalised. The Council and Berkeley Homes have made a joint commitment that a tree that is due to be removed as part of the project – known locally as the Happy Man Tree – will not be damaged or removed until this process is completed.

Existing eligible secure Council tenants whose existing, poor-quality homes are set for demolition under the programme are guaranteed one of the new homes at the same type of social rent. More than 530 Council tenant households have already moved into a new home over the last 11 years, with the latest plans enabling more residents to move.

The ‘Happy Man Tree’ had been identified for removal for more than a decade, and although no concerns were raised in previous extensive consultation, when the issue was raised last year, the application was paused and a series of workshops were held with elected resident representatives to look at other options for the design of the scheme. An independent report was also commissioned to understand the impact of the loss of the tree and what mitigation measures would mean for the biodiversity of the area. This report, submitted as part of the application approved last night, details that the mitigation measures put in place would have a net benefit on biodiversity on the estate. After months of workshops and meetings, it became clear that there was not a way to avoid removing the tree without causing a long delay to the construction of affordable housing, and a redesign of the project.

The plans also include 4,135sqm of biodiverse green and brown roofs, including vegetation and planting, as well as an energy centre to provide low-carbon heat for the entire estate and 1,060 new cycle parking spaces.

Previous plans for the third phase would have seen only 64 homes for social rent built, as well as fewer trees and less cycle parking and open space.

Once complete, the 25-year project will see more than 5,500 new homes built, replacing around 2,000 existing homes that are uneconomical to repair and at the end of their life.

As well as new homes, the project has brought new public community and commercial facilities to the area, including the Redmond Community Centre, the opening of the stunning Woodberry Wetlands to the public for the first time in nearly 200 years, new play facilities at Spring Park, and the new Skinners’ Academy secondary school. The Edge youth centre and Woodberry Down Primary School have both been refurbished.

Construction could start next year, with the first residents moving into new homes in 2024.

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