Developer’s slash for cash bid on Honiton housing estate approved

An artist's impression of Baker Estates' Gittisham development. Image: Baker Estates.

An artist's impression of Baker Estates' Gittisham development. Image: Baker Estates. - Credit: Archant

A slash for cash bid on affordable homes to be built in a Honiton development has been given the go-ahead.

Last year, Baker Estates submitted proposals to vary a requirement for affordable housing and other obligations in a Section 106 agreement regarding a 300-home development at Hayne Lane, between Honiton and Gittisham.

Outline planning permission was granted to the scheme in 2015, subject to the provision of 40 per cent on-site affordable housing and other agreements.

However, in a report submitted to East Devon District Council’s development management committee, Baker Estates said it believed it would successfully argue a need for 25 per cent affordable housing if a new outline application was submitted.

As such, the housebuilder proposed to vary the agreement to offer 31 per cent affordable housing, an off-site contribution of £500,000 and other financial incentives.

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Speaking for the proposals at the council’s planning meeting this afternoon (Tuesday), Baker Estates’ development director Graham Hutton said approval of the changes would be the right decision and offer a ‘better outcome for all concerned’.

Mr Hutton added: “Part of our proposal is the importance of respecting the adopted policy of your Local Plan.

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“Your Local Plan policy for the site included 25 per cent affordable – our proposal before you today is to deliver more than the policy of 25 per cent.

“We propose the minimum of 90 affordable homes on the site, which equates to 31 per cent.”

The original outline application was approved in 2015, at a time when the council could not demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land, and when 40 per cent affordable housing provision was being secured across the district.

The adopted Local Plan post-dates the outline consent, and did not include the site within the Built-Up Area Boundary (BUAB) for Honiton.

A strategy in the Local Plan states that sites that fall within Honiton’s BUAB are subject to the provision of 25 per cent affordable housing.

Sites that fall outside of it are subject to the provision of 50 per cent affordable housing.

However, one of Baker Estates’ key arguments is the site should be treated as being within the BUAB as it benefits from planning permission for 300 homes, meaning it is ‘illogical’ to treat it as countryside.

Councillor Susie Bond said there is a ‘very strong’ national and local need for affordable housing, especially in Honiton.

She said the variation would result in a net loss of 26 affordable homes in Honiton, adding: “These are 26 families in desperate need of affordable housing who will now have to wait.

“That’s why I am really conflicted on how to vote – it is a question of heart or head.”

Cllr Bond said she would recommend refusal if she thought with her heart, but said if she thought with her head she would vote for recommendation so public money wasn’t wasted on a lengthy council appeal.

The variation was agreed by 13 votes for and one against.

It comes just a day after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced reforms to planning rules in England.

The PM said home ownership was largely unaffordable to those not backed by the ‘bank of mum and dad’.

Mrs May said the National Planning Policy Framework will be overhauled, with one of its key measures to read: ‘ten per cent of homes on major sites should be available for affordable home ownership’.

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