A developer has quadrupled the proposed number of affordable homes in a 59-dwelling Budleigh Salterton scheme – after critics fumed that slashing the allocation ‘smacked of greed’.
New plans for Evans Field, south of the B3178 , are on the verge of netting the go-ahead despite being blasted by town representatives.
Permission is being sought to amend a previously-approved application which had originally promised 30 affordable homes – half of the total properties.
The applicant sparked anger when he sought to reduce that number to just five, but has now revised this to 21.
Evans Field sits within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) development management committee will decide the fate of the proposals next Tuesday (July 9).
In a report to members recommending the application for approval, an EDDC planning officer says: “Permission is sought for variations to an approved scheme for 59 houses, including 30 affordable dwellings, which has stalled.
“The proposal includes layout changes and an overall increase in the scale of the dwellings, but the main change is a reduction in the number of affordable houses to be provided.
“The design and layout changes result in more built-development and less landscaping than originally approved.
“While this is regrettable given the setting of the site within the AONB, since submission of the application further landscaping improvements have been made and as a result, on balance, these changes are acceptable.
“Through negotiation, the reduced affordable housing offer has been increased from 8.5 per cent to 37 per cent. While this is still short of the approved 50 per cent, it is a viable amount and an overage clause will secure an additional financial contribution if there is additional profit.
“The scheme has been amended since submission to provide better dispersal of the affordable units across the site.
“In the interests of securing the delivery of the scheme, which will make a substantial contribution to affordable housing in the area, and given that the layout changes are on balance considered to be acceptable, the application is recommended for approval.”
Budleigh Salterton Town Council and both of the area’s ward members say the plans for new homes should be turned down.
A previous bid to reduce the number of affordable homes from 30 five was slammed by district councillor Tom Wright, who said: “This application to vary the conditions, to me, smacks of developer greed.”
He added: “I strongly abject to the application that will blow a hole in the policies intended to protect the AONB.
“The only justification for such an encroachment was the provision of a high level of affordable homes for local people.”
On the latest incarnation of the proposals, Cllr Wright said: “I am concerned about the damage that may have already been done to the beech trees and the future if the ancient banks. I am also very concerned that this report is only the draft and may be altered.
“I am not inclined to support the recommendation based on a draft report. I consider the affordable housing provision to be acceptable at near 40 per cent as there is an overage provision. However, as stated in view of the environmental and visual sensitivity of this application I cannot support it on the basis of a draft report.”