Concern as Bourne affordable homes plan is dropped

The area which has received planning permission on appeal at Great Northern (formerly Redhall) Gardens, Bourne'Photo: MSMP110914-001js
The area which has received planning permission on appeal at Great Northern (formerly Redhall) Gardens, Bourne'Photo: MSMP110914-001js
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A councillor is calling for a level playing field for builders, after a firm was allowed to drop affordable homes from its plans for 46 houses.

The planned homes in Wherry’s Yard, South Road, Bourne, is the second phase of a housing estate. The first phase of 46 homes on the eastern side of the site has already been built.

Linden Homes took the proposal back to South Kesteven District Council for the planning gain condition, known as section 106 agreement, to be reviewed.

They had argued that the development was not viable if it included affordable homes.

At a planning committee meeting on Tuesday, councillors agreed the development could proceed without any affordable homes.

A spokesman for the district council said: “The second phase of the building on the site will not include any affordable housing.

“Should the value of what the developer receives in sales be above the expected amount, that will come back to the local authority to be invested in affordable housing.”

South Kesteven district councillor for Bourne West, Coun Helen Powell (Ind) said: “If a developer says there’s not enough profit, we can only go on what they say. We are concerned that we don’t have a formula that applies across the board.

“I’m hoping plans will be drawn up to make sure we have a formula that applies across the board, so some people don’t get away with working from a different formula.

“That way all developers will be treated the same and it will be a fairer system.”

Linden Homes Midlands technical director Barry Maynard said: “The government has issued guidance to local authorities on the financial viability of schemes. The final development at Wherry’s Yard has remained undeveloped for viability reasons and therefore Linden Homes approached the local authority to review the planning consent and the section 106 agreement.

“As a result of this, agreement has been reached with the local authority to retain all of the financial obligations in the section 106 agreement, but to remove the affordable housing element.”

Planning permission for the 46 homes was at first rejected by the district council on grounds it was not needed in that area. Linden Homes appealed and Government inspectors overruled the decision.

Planning laws on affordable housing were relaxed by the Government in 2012 in an attempt to kick-start a construction boom.

However, South Kesteven District Council’s policy on affordable housing states: “On all developments of 5 dwellings or more appropriate provision for affordable housing should be made.

“Where affordable housing is to be provided on site, a target of up to 35% of the total capacity of a scheme should be affordable. The affordable element should include a mix of socially rented and intermediate housing appropriate to the current local housing need.”