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New housing development in Brandon Road, Swaffham, approved despite affordable housing concerns

PUBLISHED: 13:16 12 March 2012 | UPDATED: 13:38 12 March 2012

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Revised plans to build hundreds of homes on a former factory site have been approved despite the number of affordable homes being half the council’s target.

Ben Bailey Homes received permission to build 400 dwellings on 10.5 hectares of land east of Brandon Road, Swaffham, in 2009, but submitted new proposals for 335 units because they said the original plans were now unviable.

Breckland councillors meeting today raised concerns only 20 per cent of homes on the former Redland tile factory site would be affordable, instead of the 40 per cent usually required by council policy.

Swaffham councillor Frank Sharpe said the development was needed, but was “very disappointed” by the reduced affordable element, and the fact only two flats had one bedroom.

He said the housing department wanted more one-bedroom units because one third of the 514 people on the housing register in Swaffham were single adults, many aged over 60.

However, principal planning officer Nick Moys said: “[The applicant] has responded by saying they are not in a position to increase the number because of viability.

“If the number of one-bedroom units is increased that would reduce the sales income. That inevitably will reduce the overall viability of the scheme, which is just able to support 20 per cent.

“We are in a position where we are trying to bring forward development, and instead of having no affordable housing we have some.”

He added the developer originally proposed 10-15 per cent affordable housing, but the district valuer eventually agreed 20 per cent was the most that could be achieved in the current market.

The amount will be re-assessed in later stages, and could be increased if market conditions improve significantly.

Most houses will be two storeys with two parking spaces, and the scheme includes a new roundabout on Brandon Road, landscaped green spaces, play equipment and ponds.

The crime prevention officer objected to the development because crime prevention was not “as comprehensive as it could be”.

However, Mr Moys said the applicant had modified the plans to insert windows in some gables, increasing surveillance.

Councillor Claire Bowes described the designs as “pretty bland and urban”, in contrast to the town centre’s Georgian buildings, but the scheme was passed with one vote against.

Agent Geoff Armstrong said the developer hoped to start work on the site before the end of the year.

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