Council officers have faced calls to get tough on developers who fail to meet the borough’s affordable homes targets.

Labour councillors claimed other boroughs were getting better deals on affordable housing and said Barnet needed to drive a harder bargain with developers.

They also raised questions about tests – known as financial viability assessments – used to determine how much affordable housing developers are able to provide.

It comes after one developer backed down on claims it could not stump up the amount of cash demanded by the council towards affordable homes and agreed to pay the full amount.

Barnet Council has a target of ensuring 40 per cent of homes on new developments are affordable.

But if this is not possible in certain cases – such as on smaller developments with low profit margins – developers can agree to pay a sum of money to help provide affordable homes on other sites.

In March, councillors deferred a decision on a bid to build 60 flats at 290-294 Golders Green Road because the developer, Golders Green Properties, would not pay the full sum demanded by the council towards affordable homes.

This was despite the fact that the developer wanted to remove a basement level of parking and a lower ground floor spa.

Cllr Alan Schneiderman, Labour member for Woodhouse, called for an independent review of the financial viability assessment carried out as part of the application.

But at a meeting of Finchley and Golders Green Area Planning Committee on Monday (April 15), council officers revealed the applicant had agreed to pay £640,000 towards affordable homes – upping the previous offer by more than £200,000.

Cllr Claire Farrier, Labour member for East Finchley, said: “Last week, at a general planning committee, we were looking at Pentavia (a proposed development in Mill Hill).

“Developers suddenly put in affordable housing at that site.

“It is the first time I have made any criticism of officers, but I am inclined to believe they do not push developers hard enough on our policies towards affordable housing.”

Cllr Schneiderman said: “I would agree with what Cllr Farrier says. This does show you on a small scale what can be achieved if a lot more effort is put into trying a tougher negotiating stance with developers.”

Under questioning from Labour member for West Finchley Cllr Danny Rich, council officers revealed viability assessments were carried out by getting quotes from three or four private firms and using these to determine an appropriate sum for the developer to pay.

Dave Prince, Chipping Barnet area planning manager, said the benefit of this approach was that the companies had expertise “across London and the country”.

But Cllr Rich said: “I have seen how some other planning committees work. They seem to be getting better deals than we are able to.”

Cllr Schneiderman added: “I think it is an issue we need to raise at a political level in the council.”

Councillors voted to approve the amended plans for the Golders Green Road development.