Two applications to reduce affordables in “one of the most important housing developments in the South West”

On the final day of consultation on “Changes to the current planning system” (which is all about how increasing building through the “mutant” algorithm will lead to more affordable homes); Owl has received this observation from a correspondent:

Correspondent writes:

Has any other eagle-eye observer noted that the first two of the planning applications validated by EDDC, week beginning 14 September, are for the reduction of affordable housing in Cranbrook?

Many of you may remember the time when the boast was that it was worth losing Grade 1 agricultural land because:

“Cranbrook is one of the most important housing and employment projects in the South West and is rightly recognised as a top priority by the Council.

It has taken a number of years and a huge amount of effort from all of the partners to get to this stage. During that time, no-one has lost sight of the importance of this project and its potential to deliver much-needed new and affordable homes. Cranbrook will be a high quality mixed-use settlement, close to new employment opportunities and will support local economic growth.” Steve Jackson, HCA area manager, March 2011

First application: Variation of S106 agreement to reduce overall affordable housing provision at Persimmon Phase 6 site (19/1013//MRES). 

On 29/12/2010 planning permission was given for a phase of building in Cranbrook of 235 houses of which SIXTY SEVEN i.e.28.68% were to be affordable. Now Thea Billeter, Cranbrook New Community Manager at East Devon District Council, appears to have “reached a position” in her pre-app advice that Persimmon Homes South West Ltd. can reduce the number of affordables to FORTY FOUR i.e. 18.12%. They just need a deed of approval from the Planning Committee.

But Strategy 34 of the EDDC current local plan – District Wide Affordable Housing Provision Targets –states

“Affordable housing will be required on residential developments in East Devon as follows. Within the areas defined below a target of 25% of the dwellings shall be affordable :….  f) Major strategic ‘West End’ development sites. Under this policy:…… 2 the major strategic West End development sites to which policy will apply are a) Cranbrook,”

Why this reduction to 18.12%? Perhaps it is that Persimmon’s profit will be reduced from annual profits of £1.091bn in 2019? What will happen to their profits this year at the time of Covid-19 with all its associated problems for industry? Will they be reduced so that Persimmon will be able to claim that the affordable housing on this site be reduced to Zero? 

Surely, the long term strategic provision of affordable housing should not be subject to short term economic headwinds?

The second application is 20/2018/V106.

The original 16/1826 proposal involved a total number of 19 new dwellings (the existing farm house being retained) and included the provision of 26% affordable homes. The development is located outside of the consented outline planning application and allocated site for Cranbrook, therefore EDDC planning policy required 50% site affordable housing provision. But of course a viability appraisal was submitted as part of this application which sought to justify the departure from the plan and 26% was approved.

Now this application seeks to reduce this to ZERO affordable homes, but the rub is there is no paperwork on the planning website two weeks on to justify this.

We have only to look at a previous piece on affordable homes on Goodmores Farm in Exmouth and in Evans Field in Budleigh Salterton to know that the only way for East Devon to provide affordable homes for the many locals who need them is to concrete over the entire district at the rate we are going.

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