Affordable housing cut 'with a heavy heart'
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A district council has agreed to give up any affordable housing on a site that has been in development hell for 20 years, “with a heavy heart”.
South Norfolk Council previously agreed planning permission for 58 properties on Cemetery Lane in Wymondham next to the railway station.
Since 2002, multiple developers have pulled out of the site, which councillors described as an “eyesore”.
The council imposed a section 106 agreement for 33pc affordable housing on the site.
But the developers returned to the SNC development committee on Wednesday, asking for it to be reduced to a sum of £156,000, which the council can put towards affordable housing elsewhere in Wymondham.
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Since planning was approved an affordable housing financial viability report was submitted which showed abnormal costs on the site for things like fixing contaminated land.
David Jones, speaking on behalf of the agent, said none of the building would take place if the committee did not agree.
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He told councillors: “I can confirm that the scheme would certainly not come forward if the affordable housing requirement was not changed.
“There is a multi-million-pound build development to remediate this site and it’s not viable with the affordable housing requirement.”
While the allocation was cut, the SNC housing officer told the committee that 83pc of the homes will be two- or three-bedroom properties, which may be attractive to first-time buyers.
Julian Halls, councillor for south Wymondham, called on the council to reject the plans, expressing “extreme disappointment” at the lack of affordable housing.
“The bottom line is that the developer, despite it being agreed in the section 106 previously, wishes to go for a deed of variation to allow for none,” he said.
“There is a danger here that we are setting a precedent for future planning proposals
“Yes, it is a difficult site, with considerable challenges, but it is the residents of Wymondham who will lose this previously agreed benefit.”
Committee member David Bills said he would be delighted to see the development completed.
“But, there’s a heck of a lot of difference between 33pc affordable housing and what can be bought for £156,000,” he added.
Councillor Lisa Neal agreed, saying: “It is very unfortunate about the affordable housing, I think we all feel that.
“But getting this site built out will be a big improvement and the scheme is going to be mainly building smaller properties, which I think will be attractive for first-time buyers.”
Councillors agreed to cut the affordable housing element, “with a heavy heart”.