‘Developer greed’ has been blamed for plans to slash affordable new homes on land earmarked to help families buy in Budleigh Salterton.
In 2011 a public consultation prompted ‘positive’ responses to proposals to build up to 30 affordable homes on a 59-strong development on Evans Field, between the B3178 and Hooker Close.
Now the applicant is seeking to reduce the number of affordable homes to just five – which have already been built and snapped up by a housing provider.
A call has been made for the developer to step aside if he cannot deliver more affordable housing, with town representatives saying the original promise of 30 such homes was knowingly unrealistic.
Tom Wright, East Devon District Council (EDDC) and Budleigh town councillor, said proposed changes to the planning conditions ignored previously-agreed terms put in place to protect the site, which sits in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Councillor Wright said the only justification for developing the ‘sensitive site’ had been the promise of affordable homes.
He said cutting the affordable homes quota was driven by profits.
And he argued against fresh proposals to change to the already approved development layout, saying it will ‘blow a hole’ in the policies intended to protect the ‘sensitive’ AONB.
Cllr Wright said: “The provision was 50 per cent, the level required in EDDC policy and that has now been reduced to under 10 per cent, with the claim that any more would make the scheme unviable.
“To me this indicates that the original application was reckless and would never had been viable.
“The scheme did accord with the Budleigh Neighbourhood plan to provide around 100 homes.
“Half of this was provided by the Greenway Lane development, which not only provided some fine executive homes, but also a high proportion of affordable and social housing and additionally provided additional space for allotments.”
Cllr Wright said the fresh application showed an intention to ‘circumvent’ the Section 106 requirements, which were put in place to protect the landscape and environment.
Cllr Wright said: “I strongly abject to the application that will blow a hole in the policies intended to protect the area of outstanding natural beauty.
“This site is in a sensitive location, on a rise to the south of the approach road from the north east.
“The only justification for such an encroachment was the provision of a high level of affordable homes for local people.
“If this developer can’t go some way to honour the undertakings given when planning was approved let someone else try.
“The situation should have been well understood.
“This application to vary the conditions to me smacks of developer greed.”
Alan Dent, EDDC and Budleigh town councillor, backed Cllr Wright, saying: “I totally agree with his comments and strongly oppose this developer-led attempt to reduce much-needed affordable housing in Budleigh Salterton whilst making a high level of profit.”
EDDC said the application to reduce the number of affordable homes from 30 homes to five was ‘obviously disappointing’.
A housing report prepared for EDDC’s development management committee, due to meet on Tuesday, June 18, says: “This site was going to provide 50 per cent affordable housing.
“The applicant has submitted viability evidence claiming that it is only viable to provide five units (8.5 per cent) of affordable housing in phase one.
“It is proposed that phase two will contain no affordable housing.
“An affordable housing provider has been found for this site and is due to take the five already completed units in phase one.”