Developers could find it easier to have housing schemes approved in Enfield after the council failed to meet a key homes target.

The number of homes built in the borough during the past three years was 1,314 – just 56 per cent of the target set out in the existing local plan.

Under the Government’s housing delivery test, councils that fail to meet 75 per cent of their housing targets in the previous three years fall into a category of “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

This means applications for new homes “should be considered with more weight by planning committee and the planning service”, a council report reveals.

It also means developers are more likely to be successful at planning appeals and “to submit speculative applications which are not policy compliant and are less likely to meet our design quality aspirations”, it continues.

“In short, it erodes the ability of the planning service and local councillors to control development for housing and is likely to lead to a mix and quality of housing beneath our needs,” the report adds.

Joanne Drew, Enfield Council’s director of regeneration and housing, presented the report to the regeneration and economic development scrutiny panel on Wednesday.

Ms Drew told councillors: “The supply target is increasing, and as that increases, we need to step up the delivery to achieve the targets or move towards the targets into the future.”

The council is working on an action plan focusing on seven key themes to increase housing delivery, Ms Drew explained.

Cllr Mahmut Aksanoglu (Labour, Southbury) asked how the council would bring empty homes back into use.

He also claimed residents say the planning process is often delayed and asked how developers could be encouraged to build out schemes once permission has been granted.

Ms Drew said there are around 3,000 empty homes in the borough, and the council aims to bring 60 per year back into use.

She added that officers had introduced two planning committees per month and were encouraging developers to engage with the council at an earlier stage to draw up schemes that are likely to be approved.

Cllr Edward Smith (Conservative, Cockfosters) flagged up a “disturbing” line in the report stating that failing to increase housing delivery “is likely to bring the council to the attention of the Government”.

He asked what intervention the Government might make, adding that many problems would be avoided if the council made more progress on the 10,000-home Meridian Water regeneration scheme.

Ms Drew said the interventions tended to be “light touch”, such as commissioners being placed within the organisation.

Council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan (Labour, Jubilee) said that in the past 18 months there had been “progress like never before” at Meridian Water, with the first site under construction and planning permission granted for subsequent sites.

The leader stressed the importance of completing a new local plan to ensure the Government does not step in and take direct control of housing delivery.