City Hall could overturn council's decision to refuse 449 new homes in Tooting 'village'

An artist's impression of Springfield Village in Tooting ( Barratt London/STEP/Farrells)
An artist's impression of Springfield Village in Tooting ( Barratt London/STEP/Farrells)

A London council’s decision to refuse permission for 449 new homes could be overturned at City Hall, Sadiq Khan’s planning deputy has said.

The project, which represents the final phase of re-developing the land around Springfield Hospital in Tooting, was refused by Wandsworth Council in March.

Some 839 new homes have already been approved on the site, known as ‘Springfield Village’, with the latest application requesting permission to boost the total to 1,288.

Wandsworth’s planning committee refused the extra homes - of which almost half (200) would be classed as affordable - after a narrow vote, with six voting to reject the scheme and four in favour.

Councillors opposed to the scheme said it would affect the “openness” of a site classed as ‘metropolitan open land’ and that it would put “unreasonable pressure on public transport and surrounding road networks”.

But in a letter to the council, London’s deputy mayor for planning, Jules Pipe, has said a public hearing will be held to look again at the project and possibly overrule Wandsworth by granting permission for it.

Mr Pipe said the scheme “has the potential to make a substantial and positive contribution towards achieving local and strategic housing and affordable housing targets”.

He added that the application also proposes “landscaping and public realm improvements”, as well as contributions towards local healthcare and transport, while providing employment opportunities.

“Subject to appropriate conditions and obligations being secured, the scheme could have local and London-wide level benefits,” he wrote.

The deputy mayor said he recognised “that Wandsworth Council has taken a positive approach to delivering new homes in the borough during the last five years and is currently performing well in securing planning approvals for additional housing, relative to its annual targets”.

But he also noted “that the proportion of affordable housing secured relative to the overall housing consented during this period is below the Wandsworth Local Plan target of 50 per cent and represents an undersupply of affordable housing in the pipeline”.

Jules Pipe CBE, London’s Deputy Mayor for Planning (Greater London Authority)
Jules Pipe CBE, London’s Deputy Mayor for Planning (Greater London Authority)

In summary, Mr Pipe said the scheme could make “an important and significant impact on the implementation of the London Plan” - a mayoral document which outlines how the capital should develop over the coming years.

A date has not yet been set for the public hearing, where the arguments for and against the scheme will be considered at City Hall.

In a neighbourhood consultation on the proposals, Wandsworth Council is said by City Hall to have received a total of 440 responses, comprising 396 objections, 41 expressing support and three ‘neutral’ comments.

The 449 homes would be contained within four new buildings, each ranging between three and five storeys high. They would be joined by 48 car parking spaces and 817 cycle spaces.

The revamp at Springfield Hospital forms part of South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust’s plans to re-develop and build new mental health facilities in the area.

Two new mental health units at the centre of the scheme are already open, along with the first and largest part of Springfield Park.

Developers Barratt London and STEP - who have been backed in their application by the NHS trust - said the sale of the land to build the new homes would unlock crucial funding for new facilities at Tolworth Hospital, which treats 1.2m patients across Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth.

Before becoming mayor in 2016, Mr Khan was Tooting’s MP - where he was a vocal critic of the plans to re-develop the area around Springfield Hospital.

He said at the time that he was opposed to the loss of a neighbouring sports facility - the London Golf Centre - which he said was used by thousands of residents, and that local roads and transport would not be able to cope with the extra demand caused by the development.