Council reeling over decision to block affordable housing plan

A Government decision to reject a planning application for 94 affordable homes at Ravenswood has been greeted with “astonishment” by Ipswich Borough Council. June 20, 2016 / Isla MacFarlane
Council reeling over decision to block affordable housing plan

Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Greg Clark, has turned down the application despite the recommendation of an independent Planning Inspector that the homes should go ahead.

The planning application to build 68 houses for affordable rent, 24 homes for shared ownership and two specialist homes for social rent was approved by the Council’s Planning & Development Committee in November 2014 but was called in by the Government the following January.

Council Leader David Ellesmere said, “After a public inquiry in September 2015, the Planning Inspector recommended approval but, after sitting on the report for more than six months, the Secretary of State has now blocked the application on the grounds that the development should contain more homes for sale.”

According to Clark’s report, the original proposal for 100 per cent social housing did not comply with the national and local planning policy requirements. “The tenure mix is still not sufficiently balanced to achieve an inclusive and mixed community,” the report said. “The Council has justified increasing the affordable housing provision against the need evidenced in the choice based lettings register. However, the proposal does not reflect the current housing market as a whole, where there is demand for all types of housing across Ipswich. There is also a significant need for houses for families and first time buyers.”

“This is an astonishing decision,” said Ellesmere. “I cannot think of another case in the country where a planning application has been turned down because the housing wasn’t expensive enough. The length of time it has taken the Government to take this decision is likely to cost the Council millions of pounds in lost rent, grants and increased construction costs. All the while, Ipswich families have been left languishing on the housing waiting list and jobs in the construction industry have gone unfilled.”

The Council will now consider the Government’s decision before it considers its next steps.

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