About the project
What are you proposing?
Community Health Partnerships are proposing plans for up to 130 homes for NHS staff on the site that was formerly occupied by the hospital up until 2012. 50% of those homes will be classified as affordable housing in planning policy terms, and these will be designated for staff on lower salary bands.
The remaining 50% of homes will be open to individuals working or training in the NHS. We are confident that there will be sufficient demand for these homes from NHS staff, but if there not, opportunities will be opened up other public sector key workers, such as those working in the police or fire service.
How tall will the buildings be?
The buildings range from three to six storeys of accommodation. The six storey element is located within the centre of the site. Where the buildings front onto Bow Lane and Granville Road, they are three storeys, with step backs before the heights increase. We believe the design is sensitive to the local context.
How many parking spaces will there be?
We are proposing 38 spaces for vehicles and 195 spaces for bicycles. NHS staff who work within an hour commute, by public transport, will be prioritised for the properties, and research into the transport habits of NHS staff such as nurses, shows car ownership levels are lower than in the wider population. Commuting via private vehicle will be actively discouraged on-site.
How much affordable housing are you proposing?
50% of the homes delivered will be classified as affordable housing in planning policy terms. However, the whole scheme is being designed so that affordable options are provided for NHS staff at different salary bands.
Why are you bringing this scheme forward?
Research tells us NHS staff are finding it more difficult to cope with the cost of living in London. NHS land owners, such as CHP, have been asked to explore proposals for homes for NHS staff on land that has been deemed surplus to clinical requirements.
This site, which was previously occupied by the hospital until 2012, is in that category, which is why we are bringing forward this project. As an NHS site, we believe it should be used to support NHS staff.
FAQs Update 1
Is a six-storey element too high for the local area?
Only one building is proposed to be six-storey. There is a mix of two, three, four and five storey elements.
Given that land is a finite resource, planning policy requires developers to optimise the use of land. We also want to do this so that we can give as many people as possible a good home.
Local properties, the majority of which feature a pitched roof, are the height of two and a half or three storeys, Granville Place has four storey buildings, and the hospital has four storey elements
We have looked carefully at the surrounding context and how buildings will fit into that. Consequently, along the road frontages we are proposing buildings that are not significantly taller than the other buildings on that road.
Deeper into the site and adjacent to the hospital we think that a taller element can be provided without appearing as an inappropriate element in the street scene. We have made use of the fact that the site slopes and is lower at the back adjacent to the hospital to position the tallest buildings.
The design also responds to local characteristics, such as two storey projecting bays and set-backs. The use of brick will also reflect local colour and character.
CHP believes the heights that have been outlined in the emerging proposals are appropriate for the local context.
How will you prevent buy to let investors obtaining the properties?
In accordance with Planning Policy 50% of the homes will be secured as affordable housing via a legal agreement known as a Section 106 agreement. This will include a nominations agreement in favour of NHS staff that will set out who will be able to rent the properties.
We are aiming for the whole scheme to be based on a rental model, but this depends on how sustainable and commercially viable that model is. We will also consider other alternative affordable tenures such as Shared Ownership which is a part rent part buy model.
Can we have an outdoor gym on the site?
This is an option that we are currently considering, and we will report back on this before the planning application is submitted.
Existing proposals and funding for this already exists, so any proposals to deliver this will need to take account of this.
Who is paying for the development?
There are several different ways this development could be financed. At this stage, we envisage partnering with a housing association, charity or private organisation to deliver this development.
We are also looking at various avenues for grant funding.
Are you proposing enough car parking?
The development is being designed for NHS staff who can access sustainable modes of transport, such as public transport, walking and cycling to get to work.
Evidence suggests that NHS staff, particularly those in lower salary bands, have lower car ownership rates than those within the wider population.
A Transport Assessment will be submitted with the planning application, which will outline the justification for the parking provision we are proposing.
How do you define affordable homes?
Our definition is one that is in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework i.e. housing for sale or rent, for those whose needs are not met by the market (including housing that provides a subsidised route to home ownership and/or is for essential local workers): In formulating the mix for this site we are paying close attention to the particular needs of NHS staff at different life and career stages. These considerations will also inform how much people will need to pay for their home. We are also taking account of other costs, such as service charges, to ensure that homes are affordable.
Was this land intended to remain for the community when the hospital moved?
The site was previously in the ownership of the Primary Care Trust until these bodies were abolished in 2013. CHP was not party to the discussions relating to the planning process for the new hospital at the time, however we believe that the intention was to develop houses on the site to help subsidise the cost of the new hospital
Since 2012, the cost of living has skyrocketed in London. NHS staff are increasingly being pushed out of London and being forced to commute in from elsewhere. Staff retention is a key sustainability issue for the NHS, and proposals like ours will help to address that.
Government policy says organisations within the NHS family should bring forward proposals to build homes for NHS staff on land that is surplus to clinical requirements to address the cost of living issue, and this site fits that criteria.
Will the properties be rented or for sale?
Our aspiration is for the scheme to be 100% rental, however, that must be sustainable and commercially viable. There may be a Shared Ownership/part-sale element to the scheme.
Why are you proposing to build on undeveloped land?
There is a significant amount of data available, including the recent survey from the Royal College of Nursing London, that shows that the cost of living is one of the biggest concerns for NHS staff, as it is for many key workers.
This is NHS land that has been deemed surplus to clinical requirements, and the Department of Health and Social Care has asked organisations within the NHS to bring forward plans for homes for NHS staff on publicly-owned land.
Subject to planning consent, this site could provide a significant number of NHS staff with an affordable, fit-for-purpose home to live in.
At the time that the replacement FMH was proposed it was envisaged that this site, which is the site of the original FMH, would be developed to cross-subsidise the overall development.
Recognising that people have been using the site for activities such as dog walking and exercise, we have paid very close attention to minimising building footprints and improving the quality of remaining green space on this site. In our proposals about two thirds of the site will be landscaped and will be accessible to the community to enjoy.
Who will qualify for these properties?
The exact process for assessing who will qualify for these homes is being worked on, however, we envisage NHS staff would qualify in the first instance.
Those who can commute to work using sustainable transport options will be prioritised, although applications will be assessed on a case by case basis
We expect strong demand from this group, but should that not materialise, we will set how other public sector key workers would be given access to the homes on-site. This would be set out in the nomination’s agreement attached to the S106 agreement.
Will the properties be open to all NHS staff?
Yes. Our intention is that properties will be available to all NHS staff at rates commensurate with their salary bands.
FAQs Update 2
You mention that there is clear demand for this type of accommodation among NHS staff, justifying this scheme. Please can you provide this evidence.
On our information boards we have outlined data from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) London which shows the impact the cost of living is having on staff in the capital. This data is used as a snapshot to identify the particular trend over the past 3 years. We used the RCN as a sample of data as it represents the largest cohort of staff, but it is just one of a number of multi-agency reviews to understand the challenges of recruitment and retention of NHS staff across London.
More recently the NHS workforce strategic plan demonstrates the growing workforce demand with expected staff growth across London at 4,925 whole time equivalent staff (WTE) at 2.3% with an existing vacancy gap, which is currently 10.5%. To consider the current and ongoing demand we are working in collaboration with NHS strategic bodies, NHS employers, Greater London Authority, NHS workforce intelligence, Trusts and charities to understand the overall quantum of specific need and demand.
The current affordability trends for NHS staff show the percentage of salary going towards rent at 48% in London compared to 26% elsewhere with levels effected by salary. We also know from other reports that the rental affordable rates continue to be challenging in London, so we know demand for affordable homes exists among staff.
Linked to this, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced in October 2017 that NHS staff would be offered first refusal on affordable homes built on surplus land disposed of by NHS estate owners, with an ambition to benefit up to 3,000 staff. The commitment was further underlined as part of the government response to the Naylor review published in January 2018, which committed to providing support to NHS landowners to implement this policy. We are in no doubt about the demand for affordable homes in London so when the land at Finchley was declared surplus to clinical requirement, CHP in discussions with other NHS organisations saw the development of this land as an opportunity to support the need for homes for NHS staff in line with government policy and needed demand.
In addition, recent figures released show there was an increase of more than 12,000 nurses recruited into the NHS between March 2019 to March 2020, and tens of thousands more are expected by the end of 2023.
What will happen if there is not enough uptake of accommodation by NHS staff?
As part of the planning process, we will agree a nominations agreement that will set out a cascade of organisations whose staff will be able to access the properties in the event of insufficient take up from NHS staff.
Based on quantitative data and anecdotal evidence that is emerging, we believe there will be more than enough demand from NHS staff for the homes we are proposing on this site. If for any reason this was not the case we equally know there is significant demand from other key workers who would be next in the cascade.
Will any proposals regarding landscaping, planting and public facilities put forward in the planning application come with a binding undertaking to implement them, or will the land owner maintain a right to change plans?
The proposals we have developed are landscape-led and they are an important part of delivering on the objectives of this project, which is to create somewhere fit for NHS staff to call home, whilst retaining good quality publicly accessible spaces for the community to use.
The proposed development cannot be built unless it meets the specification described in the permission that is given. If there is an intention to change the plans after this scheme is determined, a new application must be brought forward, which would be subject to a full planning process that the public will be able to scrutinise.
Will the playing fields remain open to the public?
The playing fields, which neighbour this site and provide open space for the community to enjoy, will remain open as they are now. Indeed, significant work has just been completed to the playing fields to ensure they are fit for purpose.
Why are you not holding a public meeting?
Prior to commencing with the public consultation, we took advice from Barnet Council as to what would be acceptable in light of COVID-19 restrictions and they advised our proposed approach was acceptable.
To date, over 1,700 people have visited the website and viewed the materials we have published. Over 250 individuals have engaged with us by either submitting a feedback form or question, completing our quick poll or by attending one of our webinars.
Individuals who have are not connected to the internet have been sent materials, and we have had several phone calls with residents to talk them through the proposals. We have also organised two webinar sessions where residents have been able to question the project team about the proposals and held an additional webinar with the Finchley Society to discuss the proposals with them. This project has had a high rate of engagement at this stage, before an outline planning application has been submitted.
Residents will have at least three other opportunities to provide their feedback on this project, through the statutory consultation on the outline planning application and then again when a Reserve Matters planning application is brought forward.
How will my feedback affect the scheme proposals? Will it make a difference?
The feedback generated via the engagement platform will be recorded, collated, and included in the Statement of Community Involvement we submit with the planning application, which will be available for public view. This will also detail any changes made to the scheme in response to the feedback received and respond to technical issues raised.
We will also be contacting participants and residents prior to the application being submitted, to outline any changes that we will be making to the scheme.
Why have you phrased the “quick polls” in the way you have?
Enquiries have been raised about the “quick polls” and why the questions have been phrased the way they have, specifically the first question on whether one supports “the delivery of homes for NHS staff”. This asks for feedback on the principle of developing a site for the specific type of use we are proposing, and we have had a range of feedback on that.
The second question is designed to address whether the proposals themselves are supported, with the first question allowing us to establish whether there is support in principle for delivering homes for NHS staff locally. All of this feedback will be considered in the round, so that the project team can understand fully the concerns and issues raised by the local community.
The proposals on the website as they currently stand are not detailed enough for me to make an opinion. Will there be more detailed proposals later down the line for me to view so that I can make a judgement?
At this stage, we are bringing forward an outline planning application to establish the principle of developing it for up to 130 homes for NHS staff.
If that is successful, the proposals will be subject to a Reserve Matters planning application process which will go into further detail about the design of the proposed buildings.
The visuals and sketches that we have released provide indications of what the proposals could look like, and residents will have at least three other formal opportunities to comment on the design, once it goes through the Reserve Matters planning process.
Could you amend your feedback form to allow for more than 255 characters?
If you would like to send additional feedback please email finchley@homesforNHSstaff.co.uk leaving a note that this carries on from your feedback form entry.
This will ensure your comments are registered and considered ahead of our response to feedback and the Statement of Community Involvement being published.
Please can you confirm the Public Transport Access Level score for the site?
As it currently stands, the site predominantly has a Public Transport Access Level (PTAL) of 2 and 3 on a scale where a score of 0 is very poor access to public transport, and 6b is an excellent access to public transport. The eastern half of the Site has a PTAL of 2 and the western half of the Site has a PTAL of 3.
These scores do not factor in the welcome temporary extension of the 383 bus service which will run to the hospital.
If more people living at the development own a car than the number of spaces available, is there an expectation that new residents will park on-street and make the local area congested?
We will be submitting a Transport Assessment with the planning application that will outline the parking strategy in detail. This will also outline provisions that will be made to encourage residents to use sustainable transport methods when travelling to and from the site.
When the new hospital was built, was this site not promised as communal open space in perpetuity?
The site of the new hospital was originally playing fields that were not recently open to the public. A planning requirement was to re-provide playing fields and this was done. Those playing fields are not affected by our proposals.
At the time that the new hospital was being discussed, the Council accepted that development might take place on the site of the original hospital: “The financing of the new Hospital may in part be dependent on the sale of surplus land subject to the funding achieved by the PCT and the final build costs. If this is the case it is considered that the most appropriate alternative use for the existing hospital site will be for residential purposes given the compatibility of the Hospital use with housing and the proximity of other residential uses.” https://www.barnet.gov.uk/sites/default/files/assets/citizenportal/documents/planningconservationandbuildingcontrol/finchleymemorialhospitaladoptedplanningbriefjun07.pdf
There is no requirement to retain this land as open space in perpetuity.
Did you consider building on brownfield land rather than green space?
This site was previously developed on. Both existing and emerging local planning policy as well as the London Plan, encourage applicants to optimise suitable sites for residential development.
How will local infrastructure be able to cope with the additional residents, including schools, hospitals and roads?
When the local planning authority assesses our application it will take account of everyone’s views, including expert consultees, on the need for new infrastructure. In most cases the Community Infrastructure Levy (‘CIL’) is the mechanism by which money is collected to address the additional demand that new development might place on infrastructure (such as roads and schools). Where CIL does not cover specific mitigation requirements, these can be secured by planning condition or Section 106 Agreement.