One presumes that Councillors Diviani and Twiss are aware of this, having declared hospitality from Baker Estates in September and December last year:
“Developer requests reduced affordable housing provision on residential development at Hayne Lane, Honiton
Local planning authority will consider offer from Baker Estates to provide improved mix of houses at Hayne Lane development plus £0.5m contribution towards off-site affordable housing
East Devon’s Local Planning Authority (LPA) has received a request from Baker Estates to amend the amount of affordable housing that they provide on their development of 300 houses on land to the west of Hayne Lane in Honiton.
The request will be considered after 12 noon at the next meeting of East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee on 6 March 2018, which is being held at Exmouth Town Hall
East Devon planning officers are recommending that the request be agreed.
As present Baker Estates is required to provide 40% of the dwellings (120 units) as affordable housing in accordance with the original planning permission granted on the site in 2015.
However, the developer is now asking the LPA to agree to reduce the affordable housing provision to 30% or 90 dwellings, whichever is the greater. This change would also affect the amount of financial contribution being secured for off-site open space, which would be reduced from £488,000 to £210,000.
In exchange Baker Estates is offering an improved mix of houses on the site and £500,000 financial contribution towards off-site provision of affordable housing.
The applicants have submitted this request as they believe that current planning policy would support a reduction in the provision of affordable housing down to 25%, if a new planning application were to be submitted. While they are offering less than the 40% affordable housing provision currently secured, they are offering more than the 25% they believe they would be required to provide if a new planning application were submitted.
The planning officers’ report advises that while there is a chance that Baker Estates may not be able to successfully argue 25% 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.
In addition, the planning officers believe that the viability of the site is such that it is unlikely that the council would be able to secure the current 40% provision into the future, and that agreeing to the request will negate the need for a lengthy and costly planning appeal, enabling the development to proceed as quickly as possible while providing 90, much needed, affordable housing units.
The report can be viewed on the council’s website:
Cllr Mike Howe, Chairman of East Devon’s Development Management Committee, said:
“It is important that this sort of decision is made in the public view, so that everyone can understand the issues at stake. It is about striking a fair balance, while ensuring that the right amount of affordable housing provision is made.”