Setback for affordable homes

HOPES of increasing the amount of affordable homes for families in Suffolk Coastal have suffered a setbackIt had been hoped developers would be forced to include 30 per cent social housing in every project today suffered a setback.

HOPES of increasing the amount of affordable homes for families in Suffolk Coastal have suffered a setback

It had been hoped developers would be forced to include 30 per cent social housing in every project today suffered a setback.

However Government-appointed planning inspector Geoff Salter blunted council aims by saying developers should be allowed to build a set number of homes before the "one-in-three rule" for affordable or rented homes comes into play.

In villages a developer would be allowed to build nine homes before including any social housing and in towns up to 15 properties.

Cabinet members have been left disappointed at the decision, which follows a public inquiry earlier this year, and say it will mean villages will miss out and see very few affordable homes built.

The district has an urgent need for affordable housing and changes to national grant aid and funding schemes have cut traditional ways of providing such properties in an area where few families can afford to buy.

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"To help meet the increasingly urgent local demand for affordable housing, we proposed that one in three of all new homes in developments of three or more houses in villages, or six or more in towns, should be affordable housing," said cabinet member Rae Leighton.

"This sensible and important new tool is now in real danger of being blunted by Mr Salter who recommends that the thresholds for the application of the one in three homes rule should be increased to developments of nine in villages and 15 in towns respectively.

"I cannot see the logic for this recommendation which seems to fly in the face of the real needs of our district's communities as small villages so seldom have developments of nine or more houses.

"It goes against all the government's statements about how important it is that councils encourage more affordable housing.

"We will now have to consider what we can do to ensure that the requirements of our residents are met."

In his report, Mr Salter does support some policy changes suggested by the council, including consideration of planning permission on land outside established town boundaries.

These "exception" sites would not normally be released for housing.

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