Affordable housing cut from major Hastings development

Station Plaza Health Centre was built but the homes were not SUS-150408-094513001Station Plaza Health Centre was built but the homes were not SUS-150408-094513001
Station Plaza Health Centre was built but the homes were not SUS-150408-094513001

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Controversial plans to remove the requirement for affordable housing on a 103-strong development in Hastings were agreed by the council on Thursday (December 15).

Hastings Borough Council planning committee unanimously approved the proposal for Station Plaza not to include 31 affordable units.

Planning officers recommended approval as government guidance says ‘paramount’ house building should not stalled.

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Developers claimed the affordable housing provision included on the original planning permission would make the scheme ‘not viable’ financially.

Four objections had been made against the application with concerns raised about the loss of cheaper homes and Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Perry said it was ‘utter lunacy’.

Labour and Conservative councillors have rolled over unanimously yet again,” he said.

“This terrible decision has set an unwelcome precedent where developers have been given the green light to argue that they can’t afford to include affordable housing in their plans.

“With housing needs like ours, that is utter lunacy.

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“Worse still, council officers have not yet made available to the public the information suggesting that the affordable housing allocation was ‘unviable’.”

HBC gave developers John Laing permission to build the Station Plaza complex in May, 2007, complete with the Sussex Coast College Hastings campus, 103 homes, health facilites, shops, car parking and access.

A Section 106 condition was placed on the permission meaning 30 per cent of the residential section would be affordable housing.

The homes were never built and legislative changes in 2013 mean developers can ask for the condition removed if they can prove the affordable housing element would make the overall profit too small to be viable.

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In Laing’s application, it says it is ‘important’ for the homes to be built but the rise in construction costs and other factors, including the stall in the land prices, makes the scheme ‘unviable’.

The planning officer’s report said: “Government guidance is such that building new homes is paramount and local authorities should not be seen to stall house building due to non viability and affordable housing contributions.

“Given that the viability submitted by the applicant and assessed by the district valuer concludes that the scheme is unviable with affordable housing provision it is recommended that the modification of the S106 be approved.”

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