Plans for a 29-storey tower block on the site of a retail park in Enfield have been approved – despite failing to comply with several council policies. 

The decision paves the way for NEAT Developments to build up to 1,800 homes at Colosseum Retail Park in Southbury. 

Phase one of the scheme, which received full permission, will see 444 homes built in four blocks of between six and 29 storeys. The second phase received outline permission for up to 1,356 homes in blocks between two and 24 storeys high. 

Planning chiefs admitted in a report that the scheme was not “fully compliant with all policies”, with the number of affordable homes and family-sized units falling below targets. 

The development proposes 35 per cent affordable homes by habitable room and 30 per cent by unit – below the 40 per cent target set in Enfield’s Local Plan. Family-sized homes make up just 12 per cent of the first phase and a minimum of 25 per cent of the second phase. 

Despite these concerns, councillors narrowly voted in favour of the development following a three-hour debate at a meeting of the planning committee on Tuesday (September 29). 

During the meeting, local resident Matt Burn urged members to reject the plans due to the lack of family units and affordable homes. He also claimed there was not enough play space on the development for children. 

But speaking on behalf of the applicant, Ben Wrighton, director at planning consultancy Turley, said the scheme would help to meet the borough’s “challenging” homes target without encroaching onto the green belt. 

Mr Wrighton added: “We believe the proposals strike exactly the right balance between maximising new homes and job creation, while respecting the surrounding built environment and infrastructure capacity.” 

Several councillors lined up to criticise the scheme. Cllr Mike Rye (Conservative, Town) said the 29-storey block would be a “monstrous scar on the landscape”, with not enough affordable or family-sized units. 

Cllr Maria Alexandrou (Conservative, Winchmore Hill) added: “We need family homes in Enfield – there is a very high demand for that. Who is this building for, if not for Enfield residents? Is there an idea that everyone wants a one-bed flat?” 

Cllr Hass Yusuf (Labour, Chase) called the plans for the 29-storey block “somewhat bonkers” and claimed the development could lead to more anti-social behaviour.  

And Cllr Kate Anolue (Labour, Upper Edmonton) warned of the safety risk posed by tall buildings following the Grenfell Tower fire, as well as raising concerns over the mental health impact of living in tower blocks built closely together. 

But planning chiefs defended their decision to recommend the development for approval. Under questioning from councillors, planning officer Graham Harrington explained officials had tried to strike a balance between the relevant policies and other factors such as the demand for housing. 

He claimed independent consultants had confirmed the scheme was “unviable” for the developer, but review mechanisms could allow the council to secure more affordable homes if market conditions improve. 

“Developers should be able to make a reasonable return,” Mr Harrington said. “They need to be incentivised to bring forward developments – otherwise they will not bring forward the developments and homes that Enfield needs.” 

Head of development management Andy Higham added: “There is a housing need across all tenure types, not just family, and we have to make sure we are planning for that and helping to meet that demand.” 

In response to Cllr Anolue’s concerns, Mr Harrington said: “We do think, at this level of decision making, that from a fire safety point of view, the proposed buildings in phase one meet what is required of them.”  

At the end of the debate, Cllr Rye tabled a motion to reject the plans, citing concerns over height, density, the mix of units and the lack of affordable homes. 

But while this was backed by fellow Tory councillors Maria Alexandrou and Jim Steven, along with Cllrs Yusuf and Anolue, Labour councillors Mahym Bedekova, Elif Erbil, Susan Erbil, Ahmet Hasan and Sinan Boztas voted against. With the vote tied, Cllr Boztas used his casting vote as committee chairman to reject the motion. 

When it came to the decision on the original recommendations, the vote was split along the same lines, and Cllr Boztas used his casting vote to grant planning permission. 

The development will now be referred to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who can approve the scheme or overturn the committee’s decision.