Plan to build 21 homes next to Lighthorne Heath Primary School thrown out

A plan to build 21 homes on land next to Lighthorne Heath Primary School has been thrown out following a dispute about the number of affordable homes that would be included on the site.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 6:00 am

But councillors at last week's (Wednesday December 11) Stratford District Council planning committee were told that ten houses could still be built on the Verney Road site because developers Abbey Homes (Cheltenham) Ltd had already been granted permission for that number 15 years ago.

The 21-home scheme had been given the go ahead earlier this year as long as 35 per cent of the properties were earmarked for affordable housing. As part of the developer’s planning obligations a further £130,000 would have been paid with nearly £100,000 of that to cover biodiversity offsetting.

But planning officer Louise Koelman told people at this week’s meeting that this was now no longer the case.

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She explained: “The application has been brought back to members by the applicant declining to enter into a section 106 agreement with respect to the 35 per cent affordable housing on site which equates to seven houses.

“While the applicant has adequately demonstrated that there is a lack of interest from the council’s registered housing association partners to take on these dwellings, in these instances fixed equity sales schemes are considered to be a legitimate alternative. This would result in the dwellings being marketed at 60 per cent of their open market value in perpetuity.

“The applicant doesn’t agree with the principle of fixed equity housing and has therefore declined to enter into a section 106 agreement on this basis with no alternative being brought forward by the applicant.”

She added that the decision meant the scheme was therefore contrary to council policy and recommended that the application be refused.

Cllr Maggie Hedger of Lighthorne Heath Parish Council also called for the 21-property scheme to be refused.

She told the meeting that the council had objected when the plans were initially approved in March and that their opposition to the scheme remained.

“The parish council is concerned about what the applicant is going to do with the site as it has laid dormant for 15 years and clearance work is now taking place,” she added.

“If the intention is to build, what type of housing will be provided and over what timeframe. If any development does go ahead what provision will be made for adequate infrastructure and traffic management.”

Councillors voted unanimously to refuse planning permission for the 21 houses.