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No reduction in level of affordable housing

A housing developer has allayed concerns that it was attempting to pull out of a condition relating to affordable homes in a development of more than 450 properties near Congleton.

Redrow has permission to build 454 homes, to be known as Round Hill Gardens, on land between Manchester Road and Giantswood Lane at Hulme Walfield.

When it grated the firm permission to build, Cheshire East Council added a section 106 agreement, which meant Redrow had to make 17.5% of the properties affordable housing.
The plan said there would be 18 one-bedroomed properties and 62 with three bedrooms – a total of 80.

Now, Redrow has submitted an application to the borough council for the “release from legal obligations related to affordable housing”.

The application comprises the original section 106 agreement in respect of the land.
Also uploaded to Cheshire East’s planning portal are the comments of three residents opposing the application and one from the authority’s development officer for strategic housing, who has not objected.

The residents presumed that Redrow was requesting release from its legal obligations “so it can build more expensive houses and make more profit”.

But in a statement this week, Gareth Stansfield, land director at Redrow North West, said: “There has been no reduction to the number of affordable homes set to be delivered at Round Hill Gardens. It remains at 80 homes, as per our current planning consent.

“The proposed change allows a housing association to purchase the properties, which would then be sold to the local community as affordable homes.”

While this put to bed the residents’ concerns, the objections received by the council to the application highlighted the ongoing perception by some that housing companies want to put profits above the effort to help people secure affordable homes.

A resident of Lomas Way, Congleton, said: “The land was purchased under a legal agreement to provide 17.5% affordable housing. Redrow agreed to the terms in order to use the land to build a number of houses, and it is not clear in the latest application what their grounds are for requesting release from their legal obligations. I can only presume that it is so they can build more expensive houses and make more profit; that they signed the agreement, got the land, started building and now want to renege on their agreement now it is too late to reject their planning request.

“As the council granted permission with the standard expectation to include affordable housing, I do not believe there are sufficient grounds to challenge that.”

Chris Glover, Cheshire East Council’s development officer for strategic housing, responded to the application, saying he didn’t object “on the assumption that the deed of variation is in line with our precedent s106 and includes all standard affordable housing securing text found within the precedent s106”.

The application reference on the planning portal is 23/1316C. The decision target date is Friday, 26th May.

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