Anger over affordable homes bid

Queensway Artist Impression
Queensway Artist Impression
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Campaigners today told of their anger after a developer which won an appeal to build a 1,150-home estate on green field space in St Annes revealed it is seeking to have its affordable homes quota removed – despite it being a condition of its permission.

Opponents to the Queensway scheme have criticised the move by Kensington Developments, as the number of affordable homes formed an major part of the firm’s permission to build on the site.

Kensington has submitted an application to Fylde Council to be allowed to remove its affordable homes quota, despite a Planning Inspectorate report, which approved the scheme in June 2012, calling for around 10 per cent of properties on the scheme to be affordable.

Adrian Fielding, of Queensway Environmental Defenders, said many would be astonished the scheme could now be “uneconomical” in a week when robust growth in the housing market has been reported nationally.

He added: “This change will at best delay affordable housing on the site and it is conceivable Queensway may ultimately provide little or no contribution to affordable housing.

“This is significant as St Annes has a high need of affordable housing according to the council’s own evidence in the emerging local plan.

“In agreeing to grant permission for Queensway on second appeal, the Secretary of State accepted the promises provided by Kensington to justify building on a site which should have been protected.

“Such promises should not be broken lightly.”

The move from Kensington comes despite a planning appeal report on behalf of Secretary of State Eric Pickles MP last year, which said the “proposed scheme would make an appropriate contribution towards the substantial housing needs of the area, including the need for affordable housing, and he considers this to be an important material consideration to which he gives considerable weight.”

Kensington won the right to build on the land last year despite concerns from protesters, who were angry at the prospect of homes being built on greenfield sites, as well as a range of other environmental issues.

St Annes Town Council Mayor and Coun Viv Willder said the application could lead to disappointment for many people: “I am not happy about the application.

“It could mean no affordable homes. I am a member of the board for the Progress Housing Group – I know what the situation is like at present.

“We need affordable housing right the way through the system – I am very disappointed.

“We have a lot of people down for affordable housing, what used to be known as social housing. If people can’t buy here, they are forced into the private sector, where rent and cost in some ways is higher. It is a big problem.”

Fylde Council’s head of planning and regeneration, Mark Evans added: “Kensington is saying the infrastructure it has to provide – the link road, a school etc – could make the scheme unviable.

“After every 300 homes built a decision has to be made on the number of affordable houses that will be provided.

“Depending on the housing market at that time, the developer wants to be allowed to vary the number. Worst case, very few affordable homes would be built.”

Kensington Homes declined to comment on the matter.

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