Government asked to intervene over Sutton tower block 'eyesore' Sutherland House
A developer planning to rebuild a town centre eyesore has launched an appeal against the council over the stalled project.
Sutherland House in Brighton Road hit the headlines in 2010 when it was found to be housing a £1.5m cannabis farm over four of its empty floors.
Councillors were pleased when in 2011 developers, Criterion Capital, got agreement on plans for a twenty story building with a 70-bedroom hotel, a 96-flat housing development and leisure and conference facilities (see picture below).
However, Criterion Capital has since changed their mind and submitted revised plans for private flats with no plans for affordable housing which councillors argue is a requirement due to the current housing shortage.
The new proposal does not include a hotel and comprises of more than 150 flats.
Picture by Philip Atkinson
The developers have now asked the Secretary of State for a public inquiry into Sutton planning department's recommendation that the current plans be turned down.
It is understood that Criterion Capital argue they cannot supply affordable housing due to the cost.
However, Sutton Council commissioned an independent investigation and found there were adequate finances for affordable housing, as well as community spending, under a Section 106 agreement.
Lib Dem and Sutton South councillor Heather Honour said: "Frankly I want the developers to stop mucking us about and to get on with the proposals for a sensible development which acknowledges they need to provide affordable housing and investment in the community - just like any other developer. The building is a disgrace"
However, her Sutton South Tory colleague, councillor Tony Shields, said he thought the council should have granted permission for the new plans with affordable housing being provided elsewhere.
He said: "It’s an eyesore and remains an eyesore. This fiasco has gone on long enough."
Councillor Jayne McCoy, chair of the housing, economy and business committee said: "The application is now with the Planning Inspectorate. London Borough of Sutton will be compiling a report which will be presented to Development Control Committee seeking members’ authority to agree grounds on which to contest the appeal.
"Sutherland House has been - and continues to be - an eyesore and we do want to redevelop this land, but only for the overall benefit of the community.
"To achieve this plans must be in place and agreed by committee that show a way forward that is right for Sutton, as well as right for the developers."
Criterion Capital refused to comment when approached by this newspaper.
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