Developer bids to slash the number of affordable homes on 216-house estate
A developer wants to slash the amount of affordable housing on a planned 216-home estate in Dereham from 40pc to 25pc.
And Breckland Council officers have advised planning committee councillors to go along with it, despite strong objections from town leaders.
Linda Monument, Dereham’s mayor and district councillor, said the move by developer Mountleigh Dereham to change the Section 106 agreement for its planned estate called ‘Treetops’ off Swanton Road amounted to “cherry picking of policies” and was “clearly for profit”.
In a submission to Breckland, Mrs Monument said: “The application was considered very thoroughly at the time and the full 40pc affordable housing provision was a major factor in the decision to approve”.
She added that the plans for the estate were: “Not entirely satisfactory in other respects such as open space provision, sustainability, impact on local traffic and good safe access to the town centre for cyclists and pedestrians”.
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Fellow Breckland councillor Philip Morton also objects, saying the request creates “a degree of cynicism around the planning process”. And councillor Alison Webb said: “We need the affordable homes urgently. Planning was given on the basis that the number of affordable homes were delivered.”
But a council officer’s report, prepared ahead of a meeting on July 14, advises councillors to agree to the request, noting that Breckland has a “five year housing land supply” and 25pc affordable homes is all the regulations require.
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The report, included in the meeting’s agenda papers, says: “The Local Plan requires that the affordable housing contribution for qualifying developments should provide 25pc affordable housing, less than the previously required 40pc.
“While, as stated above, the report and minutes note the provision of 40pc affordable housing, this is not stated as the reason that the application was approved or that it was a major contributory factor in tipping the planning balance.”
Tony Needham, town clerk, said suggesting the development could only be viable with 25pc affordable housing, whereas 40pc was considered viable in the past, was “a nonsense”.
The plans for the 10.57 hectare site were originally approved in 2017 and the Section 106 agreement was signed on July 18 last year.