The developer of a controversial retirement complex in Seaford was given permission to build a temporary car park instead of affordable flats because it could not find a partner to take the homes on.
McCarthy and Stone, which built the unpopular Eversley Court in Dane Road, was reluctantly given the green light by Lewes District Council’s planning committee this week.
However the council agreed to write a strongly worded letter to the company’s chief executive expressing its disappointment that the affordable homes had not gone ahead as planned and put pressure on the developer to build the affordable flats.
The reason McCarthy and Stone had difficulty finding a housing association to manage affordable homes on the site, which is next to Eversley Court, hinged on a legal technicality,
McCarthy and Stone does not have absolute title to a substantial area of the site where the affordable housing was to be built so cannot prove it owns the land.
According to the council the developer can apply for absolute title and as long as the owner of the land does not come forward within 12 years, the land will be owned by McCarthy and Stone.
What was putting off housing associations was that within those 12 years if they built the homes on this land, the owner who has absolute title could legally come forward and claim the land and anything built on it.
The meeting heard McCarthy and Stone had tried six different housing providers but none of them wanted to take on the project.
The planning application for the retirement complex and affordable homes was rejected by the district council but approved on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.
At its meeting at County Hall in Lewes on Wednesday May 14, the planning committee said the developer could use the land for 25 parking spaces on a temporary basis for a period of three years, instead of the requested five years from the developer.
The council stressed pressure must be put on the company to find a partner for the affordable housing.
Cllr Sam Adeniji (Ind, Seaford South) said: “I think it’s quite sad that McCarthy and Stone should have got out of fulfiling their obligations.
“I do not think they shoud be allowed to get away with it.”