An office block in North Cheam could soon be turned into 50 flats, with no affordable housing provided.

Haredon House, a 1960s building in London Road, is currently used as offices on the first floor and Topps Tiles on the ground floor.

It is the second time plans for flats on the site have come before Sutton Council.

A previous proposal for 65 flats to replace the office was rejected by the authority in 2016 on the grounds of it being too big for the area.

This was overturned on appeal a year later and work on this scheme started.

But now, the developer Icona Holdings wants to change the plans for 15 fewer flats, which would have been provided in the basement of the building.

The new plans have also reduced parking spaces from 63 to 45.

The latest scheme, which received nearly 20 public objections, was approved by the council’s planning committee on Wednesday (April 6). 

At the meeting, councillors grilled the applicant on why no affordable housing was proposed as part of the development.

Agent for the applicant, Mr Peter Swain, from Proun Architects, said: “A viability assessment that was undertaken by the applicant concluded that no affordable housing was viable. The same conclusion was reached at the previous scheme that was approved. Unfortunately in this situation it is just not viable.”

The council’s planning policy said developments of 11 or more should provide 35 per cent affordable homes. But a report from the council’s planners said in this case it would “generate a deficit of £2,484,325 against benchmark land value”.

Councillor Tim Foster said: “As a planning committee we have to judge on planning issues and part of the policy of this council is to provide affordable homes, I don’t understand why something of this scale is proposed with the reason and rationale to say ‘oh, we can’t afford it’. I’m a businessman and if I was creating this and I knew those were the rules I would try to obey the rules.”

The approved plans are for a two-storey extension to the front of the building and a two-storey extension on top of the existing building. 

The plans were voted through with six votes and two abstentions.