A housing scheme planned for the site of a North Finchley retail outlet would be an overdevelopment and fail to provide enough affordable homes, councillors have claimed.

Developer Taylor Wimpey has appealed to the planning inspectorate after Barnet Council delayed making a decision on whether to grant permission for blocks of flats up to seven storeys high to be built at the Homebase store in High Road, meaning a government-appointed inspector will now decide whether the scheme should go ahead.

As part of the appeal process, the council’s strategic planning committee was asked to express its view on the scheme to help the local authority defend its position during a four-day public inquiry expected to begin on December 14.

During a meeting on Thursday, the committee backed council officers’ grounds for refusing the scheme on the basis that it would fail to meet an affordable housing target and does not include a formal undertaking to secure planning obligations that would make the application acceptable. They also added a further reason focusing on overdevelopment of the site.

Plans for a larger development at the Homebase site, which would have provided 307 homes in blocks up to nine storeys, were rejected by the council in January 2021, and a planning inspector upheld the decision the following September. Revised plans to build 250 homes were drawn up by Taylor Wimpey, but the council missed a deadline to decide on the application as it sought more information from the developer, which subsequently appealed to the planning inspectorate.

The revised scheme would provide only 32 affordable homes, significantly below the council’s minimum target of 35 per cent under local planning policy.

Speaking during the committee meeting on Thursday, local resident Jeffrey Borinsky called on councillors to add “overdevelopment, overshadowing and excessive numbers of single-aspect flats” as reasons for refusal.

Mr Borinsky claimed the proportion of single-aspect units would be 49 per cent – lower than the developer’s figure – which he said was “unacceptable”. He added that “20m high blocks” would represent a “grotesque intrusion” to neighbours in Rosemont Avenue and block sunlight to houses and gardens.

Mary Hogben, representing The Finchley Society, asked the council to add “poor design” and “an inappropriate townscape proposal that is alien to the character and appearance of this area of North Finchley” to the reasons for refusal.

She said the scheme would have a “very high level of density” that would be “unacceptably out of character” and the blocks would not “respond well to the existing grain of the town centre”.

Under questioning from committee chair Nigel Young, planning agent John Murch said the larger scheme that was refused last year sought to deliver the 35 per cent affordable housing target. But following the planning inspector’s refusal, the developer had to “dramatically reduce the amount of accommodation within the scheme”.

He added: “At the end of the day, the scheme has to be deliverable, and the affordable housing, more often than not, is the thing that moves up and down as changes to the scheme, loss of accommodation, are made.”

Council planning officers said 70 per cent of the proposed units would in fact be dual aspect – an increase on the plans that were refused, as the reduction in the total number of flats had enabled the developer to open up the scheme.

Cllr Young proposed adding a further reason for refusal focusing on the impact of large blocks of five to six storeys on the existing two-storey homes in Woodberry Grove.

The committee unanimously agreed to add an additional reason for refusal stating that the excessive height and scale meant the proposal would be an overdevelopment of the site that would fail to respect the local context and pattern of development and be detrimental to its character. Officers agreed to make reference to the impact on Woodberry Grove when the reasons were finalised.

The committee then unanimously agreed to support all the reasons for refusing the development.