July 24 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, July 10, 2014
A developer’s request to remove its affordable housing obligation from an 140-dwelling scheme in east Suffolk has been approved on national appeal.
The Planning Inspectorate yesterday permitted Hopkins Homes to proceed with its Station Road development in Framlingham without including the 47 affordable homes, as originally agreed in its application.
Hopkins Homes argued the development would not have been financially viable – a claim that Suffolk Coastal District Council had rejected in its decision to refuse the request.
Planning inspector Geoff Salter agreed with the appellant, however, citing costs involved in the decontamination of the former industrial site and “substantial earth works” that would be necessary.
Mr Salter accepted Hopkins Homes valuation reports, which forecast a project loss of £1.7million if the affordable housing was retained. He also criticised the council’s “unsatisfactory” approach in responding to the developer’s evidence.
Geoff Holdcroft, who is responsible for planning at the council, said he was disappointed with the decision “as there is a pressing need for affordable housing in this area”.
However, he added that the council accepted the outcome and hoped it would enable the developer to progress the project “sooner rather than later,” to help meet the district’s “demanding” new homes target.
Stephen Burroughes, who is Framlingham’s county councillor, also expressed disappointment with the decision, which he fears will “open the floodgates” and leave young people unable to get on the housing ladder.
“I just don’t buy it when the developer say it’s not viable – if it’s not viable now with housing prices as they are, I don’t know when it will be,” he added.
Framlingham Town Council wrote to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, expressing concerns about the developer’s request.
The letter said there was “considerable community outrage ... that Hopkins appear to have made a bad business decision ... and now want the community to bail them out because the numbers ‘do not stack up’”.
“Worse still, they appear to be holding the town and indeed the district to ransom by stating that the site will remain undeveloped unless they have their way,” the letter continued.
A Hopkins Homes spokesman said the company was “absolutely delighted” with the decision.