“Planners back REDUCTION of affordable homes in Honiton”

“… Councillors voted by 13 votes to one on Tuesday afternoon to allow the application, but not until Cllr Jenny Bond asked the committee to remember the 26 affordable homes and the families who would miss out when voting on it.

She had earlier added: “We have lived and breathed this application for many years through gritted teeth but this is disappointing as there is a real need for affordable housing in Honiton and Gittisham. The current offer is 90 affordable with £500,000 offsite, which equates to four houses, so the net loss is 26 families in desperate need of an affordable house who have to wait.

“With my heart I would recommend refusal and vote against it, but my head says that we have to vote with the recommendation and not waste public money on appeal. But to lose 26 affordable houses is unforgivable.”

Cllr David Barratt said: “I will propose approval as we need to vote with our heads on this one, even though affordable housing is incredibly important.”

The committee was told by development manager for EDDC Chris Rose that the applicants have submitted the request as they believe that current planning policy would support a reduction in the provision of affordable housing down to 25 per cent, if a new planning application were to be submitted.

The planning officers’ report advised that while there is a chance that Baker Estates may not be able to successfully argue 25 per cent affordable housing provision as part of a new planning application, there is an equal chance that such a proposal would be acceptable should an application be submitted and determined on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

Graham Hutton, Development Director at Baker Estates had said: “We think that we are making a very fair offer. We have consulted at length with the local ward members, as well as with both Gittisham Parish Council and Honiton Town Council, to make sure that we get this right.

“What is now on the table is a proposal to provide 31 per centaffordable housing, as well as a far better mix of homes and a further £500,000 off-site contribution. This provides the best chance of securing the swift delivery of 90 affordable homes for the local area – it’s worth bearing in mind that fewer than 10 affordable homes have been built in Honiton in the past decade.

“Only by reaching agreement at the local level today is it possible to offer a package this generous, as the costs of appeal or a new application would prohibit it. An agreement today will allow us to continue delivery of the homes and this will make a huge difference to Honiton and Gittisham.”