Councillors said they were horrified they were being asked to ‘give away poor people’s right to a house’.
Last month, Teignbridge District Council’s planning committee approved a scheme that will see 10 new two and three-bed apartments built on the site of the Neilston Retirement Hotel in Woodway Road, but only if an affordable housing contribution of £86,431 was provided.
But an independent viability appraisal confirmed that a contribution that large would mean that the development would not be viable and that they would not be able to proceed.
The application went back before planners on Tuesday morning and they voted to accept the recommendation of the planning officer that an affordable housing contribution of £37,500 was requested.
Had the application been totally policy compliant in terms of a 25 per cent affordable homes or off-site contributions for Teignmouth, then developers would have been asked for a total liability of £172,863.
Cllr Alistair Dewhirst said: “I am horrified that we could just give away poor people’s right to a house and I couldn’t possibly support it. I don’t think what is there now is special but what they are proposing looks like Colditz to me.”
Cllr Jackie Hook added: “Last time we were content with the application and were happy to see these new apartments built and we compromised in favour of a contribution of one affordable unit.
“The applicant’s appraisal identifies a developer’s profit of £228,280, so we should ask for £50,000, not the £37,500, and they will hardly notice the difference.”
Cllr Dave Rollason added: “A £228,000 profit is a lot of money. The need for affordable housing is massive and it is unfair that we are taking money from the pockets who need it most and giving it to developers.”
She added: “You either have to accept the independent advice over viability, or refuse the application.”
Cllr Phil Bullivant said it would be very difficult to go against the professional advice given and he could not see the evidence to go against it.
Cllr Dennis Smith, chairman of the committee, added: “We asked for this report and now seem to want to just be ignoring what it says. The viability statement says that £37,500 is fair, so I don’t see how we can argue about it.”
The proposal of Cllr Hook to increase the contribution required to £50,000 was lost, and then councillors voted by 14 votes to three to approve the application with an affordable housing contribution of £37,500.
The scheme would see the demolition of the existing building and the construction of a three storey apartment building containing 10 new two and three-bed apartments, plus 18 car parking spaces and two double garages.
Councillors had previously been on a site visit and raised no objections to the principle of the application, with Cllr Charlie Dennis said that the building has deteriorated, is past its best and at present it is a ‘sad thing to see’.