THE reduction of affordable housing on a proposed building development in the Moorlands has been approved by community leaders. Building plans, which had previously been approved by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC), for land south of Thorley Drive in Cheadle came under fire from objectors when developers Keepmoat Homes proposed to amend a Section 106 policy that had previously been agreed. A 'Section 106 agreement' is “a mechanism which makes a development proposal acceptable in planning terms, that would not otherwise be acceptable.
“They are focused on site specific mitigation of the impact of development.”
The original deal included making “33 per cent of the total number of dwellings to be affordable units” on the site.
However, Keepmoat said this target could no longer be reached and proposed lowering this percentage to 17.5 per cent.
At a planning meeting held on Thursday, July 27, SMDC Planning Officer Ben Haywood said: “(The amendment) has been subjected to very careful scrutiny by officers and by our consultants.
“It is our recommendation that the viability of the appraisal is robust and that the scheme can only viably deliver 17.5 per cent of affordable housing and the other section 106 contributions.
“Therefore we are recommending that the application is approved.”
There were, however, numerous objectors to the amendment including from Cheadle councillor Richard Alcock who said at the meeting: “If this is passed it will be another nail in the coffin for Cheadle.
“They can’t even get the street names correct.
“All they are interested in is making money, they’re not interested in Cheadle.
“Of course it’s been passed now so we have got to do the best with a bad job.”
In a statement read out on behalf of Cheadle resident Nigel Kelsall, he said: “This site was voted in by the slimmest of margins mainly by providing 33 per cent affordable housing for the folk of the Moorlands especially Cheadle.
“The builder was more than happy at the outset but now the local people of the Moorlands will be paying for his miscalculation or greed.”
Helen O’Doherty, Group Land and Partnerships director at Keepmoat Homes, said in response to claims of exacerbating profit margins: “Keepmoat already operate at a profit margin which is significantly below the recommended profit margin in the National Planning Policy guidance framework.
“Our commitment is to deliver the ten or 13 units as outlined in the appraisals and I can confirm that it is 13 units.
“We would seek to work with Homes England and with our housing association partner to attract Homes England funding to provide additional units outside the planning framework.”
Councillor Paul Roberts said: “I think this council is going to write to the government to find out whether we can do something a little bit better within the planning law so we can tie people down over the affordable housing because that is what we need in this district.”
After the debate, councillors unanimously voted approval of the changes.
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