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Framlingham: Affordable homes decision ‘drove coach and horses’ through planning policy

PUBLISHED: 08:18 16 July 2014 | UPDATED: 08:18 16 July 2014

Suffolk County Council chairman Christopher Hudson

Suffolk County Council chairman Christopher Hudson

Archant

The decision to allow affordable housing to be removed from a major development in east Suffolk “drove a coach and horses” through planning policy and will set a “dangerous precedent”, a senior councillor has said.

Christopher Hudson, who is one of Framlingham’s district councillors, condemned the approval of Hopkins Homes’ appeal over its rejected plans for the town, claiming it “made a mockery of local sustainability”.

Suffolk Coastal District Council had rejected the developer’s request to progress with its 140-dwelling scheme off Station Road without the 47 affordable homes originally agreed, judging the loss to be “completely unacceptable”.

Last week, however, planning inspector Geoff Salter approved Hopkins Homes’ appeal against the decision, after agreeing with the company’s claims the development would not be financially viable if it included the affordable housing.

Mr Hudson, who sits on the planning committee and is also the chairman of Suffolk County Council, said the decision was “indefensible” and had provoked outcry among the town’s residents.

“It’s driven a coach and horses through our affordable housing policy and I’m very worried that we’ve set a dangerous precedent for other applications,” he said.

“It’s ludicrous to get rid of brown and green field sites only to have second homes built there when we’ve got a crying need for affordable homes in the town.”

Mr Hudson said the housing situation had become “untenable” and local ratepayers felt their rights had been “completely abandoned”.

“Framlingham is demanding affordable housing and it’s a vital part of our core strategy,” he added.

The decision was also met with disappointment from Framlingham Town Council, Stephen Burroughes, who is the town’s county councillor, and Geoff Holdcroft, the district council’s planning chairman.

A Planning Inspectorate spokesman said inspectors were “impartial and independent” but did not comment on decisions. Mr Salter, in his appeal decision letter, said removal of affordable housing was “reasonable and is necessary in this particular case to enable the development to move towards viability”.

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David Vincent

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EADT writer David Vincent has more than 40 years experience in Suffolk. He has explored the highways and byeways of East Anglia, meeting homeowners, developers and estate agents from Bury St Edmunds to Aldeburgh and Colchester to Diss.