Concerns raised that council is setting precedent of not hitting affordable homes target

South Wymondham, where the application for 90 homes - and the wider scheme for 500 - will be built.

South Wymondham, where the application for 90 homes - and the wider scheme for 500 - will be built. Picture: Mike Page

Concerns have been raised that a district council is setting a precedent of not hitting affordable housing targets.

At South Norfolk Council's planning committee yesterday, councillors queried whether developers would begin to rely on decisions where its 33pc policy, applicable in schemes for 16 homes or above, had not been met.

It came during deliberations over a bid for 27 homes on land north of Gibbs Close in Little Melton, of which four would be affordable, working out at just under 15pc.

A previous application in 2012 for 20 homes on part of the site was approved with 33pc, seven affordable units. But the new applicant, Vello Ltd, says this is no longer viable.

Councillor Murray Gray said: 'My concern is with affordable housing within south Norfolk.We have been trying to achieve 33pc and we have obviously not.

'This scheme quotes others that haven't achieved it and every one we approve is another that future applications can rely on.'

He said it would be 'regrettable' to see less affordable housing across the district.

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Cabinet member Yvonne Bendle added: 'We do try to guarantee 33pc wherever we can and we do not want a precedent set that says 15pc is sufficient, which is not something I agree with.'

The concerns, and those over drainage issues related to the scheme, saw councillors divided.

Councillor Lisa Neal said: 'I appreciate we aren't getting the 33pc affordable housing, but we are getting some and I do believe that some is better than none.'

The plans were approved, with seven councillors voting in favour, one against and three abstaining.

The issue of affordable housing was raised again when councillors deliberated a bid for 90 homes on land north of the A11 in south Wymondham, part of a wider scheme for 500 homes.

In the application, which councillors unanimously green-lighted, 18 homes - 20pc - will be affordable.

But in a council report, planning officers say the number is 'acceptable' as it means the overall affordable housing total of the entire scheme is on track to be 15pc. The report also says that the 33pc may be reduced when it can be proved it would 'render the site unviable in prevailing market conditions'.

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