Framlingham: Developer’s request to remove affordable housing is refused
12:16 11 February 2014
A request to drop the affordable housing from a major development in east Suffolk would have set a “dangerous precedent” and has been refused.
Hopkins Homes claimed it was financially unviable to progress with its 140 property development in Framlingham unless the obligation to build 47 affordable houses and contribute £68,755 towards sports facilities was removed.
However, a Suffolk Coastal District Council planning committee refused the application, saying the loss of affordable housing was not sufficiently outweighed by any benefits of having the site developed.
North area development management sub-committee chairman Bob Snell said there was a “desperate need” for affordable housing, the loss of which was “completely unacceptable”.
“It’s a very important principle that we didn’t want to drop, even though the regulations do allow it,” he said. “We felt it would be preferable to find an alternative application at the site that would still allow some sort of affordable housing.”
Hopkins Homes had argued that the loss of affordable housing should have been balanced with the benefits of bringing the derelict Station Road site back into use. It would have involved a £3.6m boost to the local economy, sustaining 61 construction jobs and a further 93 in other sectors. The developer’s agreements would also have featured an education contribution of £244,989 and £30,000 towards a zebra crossing.
A spokesman for the company said: “We are disappointed at the decision of the (committee) given that government policy quite clearly supports proposals as we have submitted and efforts to kick-start stalled developments on brownfield sites.
“The decision neither services the interests of council tax payers nor helps with the council’s poor housing supply record.”
Christopher Hudson, a Suffolk Coastal councillor for Framlingham, said that approving the request would have set a “dangerous precedent”. “We could not really pick up the tab for what was a commercial venture,” he said. “I could not have faced the people of Framlingham knowing I had agreed to override an essential part of the council’s housing strategy.”