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Developer not allowed to drop eight homes from Holbeach scheme

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A developer will not be able to drop eight affordable homes from its plans - with councillors ruling they will have to accept lower profits.

Loosegate Developments wanted to cut eight affordable properties from its scheme off Wignals Gate in Holbeach - saying it was no longer viable to deliver on what was agreed when it got planning permission.

Members of the district council’s planning committee, however, agreed with an independent assessor’s verdict that the plan could still make 8.85% profit - and that the viability argument could not be made to offset lower returns.

The planning committee turned the proposal down
The planning committee turned the proposal down

Des Ford, speaking on behalf of the applicant, told the committee that the cost of construction materials had risen by 40-50% - and that Loosegate’s desire to build a more spacious estate was going against them as packing in more homes could’ve boosted profits.

Coun Jack Tyrrell said he felt sympathy for the developer and worried about the impact of refusing permission on the sort of firm needed to help deliver housing targets.

Coun Andrew Tennant felt the committee should ‘bite the bullet’ and accept fewer affordable homes.

However, chairman James Avery said ignoring the advice of officers - who called for the request to be rejected - would ‘open a set of floodgates’.

Coun Roger Gambba-Jones
Coun Roger Gambba-Jones

Coun Roger Gambba-Jones guarded against listening to the ‘hard luck stories’ and acting out of sympathy for a ‘good old boy’ - warning this could be seen as favouritism.

He shared Coun Avery’s concerns of setting a precedent, adding: “There are other people out there watching the decision we will make. I am afraid the answer is no.”

Coun Andrew Woolf praised the ‘reputable builder’ but added: “Ultimately, just on this one if we relax this by these eight units that’s eight people that will find it more difficult to get on the housing ladder.”

Coun Andrew Woolf (35455988)
Coun Andrew Woolf (35455988)

Officer Polly Harris-Gorf explained that the usual 15-20% profit calculation for viability is based on developments that have not started - and that the independent CP Viability had not said the scheme was not viable, merely that it was ‘lower viability’.

Coun Simon Walsh said he did not expect the developer would ask to build more affordable homes if costs went down - adding ‘some you win, some you lose’.

All bar Couns Tyrrell and Tennant voted to reject the proposed reduction in affordable homes.

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