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Dartmouth Housing plan rejected

At its Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday, the Town Council rejected the outline planning application by Millwood Homes to build 240 homes opposite the Sainsburys supermarket in Townstal. The meeting was attended by South Hams Council’s planning officer David Kenyon and affordable housing manager Lliam Reading who advised that the proposed low number of affordable homes constituted legal grounds to reject the scheme, and the committee voted unanimously to reject it — “The Town Council believes that on the basis of the information supplied 14% affordable housing is insufficient and a viability assessment on the affordable housing is required. The Town Council would also ask for clarification of how employment land
can be controlled, provided and landscaped. In the absence of this information the Town Council recommends refusal.”

The original scheme was adopted by the District Council and approved by the government to provide 405 homes, of which 66% (267) were to be affordable housing for the 600 families on our local housing waiting list. This was reduced to 55% (222) when national Housing Corporation funding was abolished by the present government. But Millwood Homes were unable to deliver this number of houses on the land that was for sale, and the District Council rejected making more land available on an adjacent departure site, or compulsory purchase building land they had adopted within their own Local Development Framework but was not for sale. Mr Kenyon confirmed that Millwood were advised at the outset to consult an affordable housing provider to build the affordable homes required in the council’s planning policy document but they declined the advice. As a result the affordable homes are to be delivered by section 106 agreement and critics say this was to maximize profits
to the developer and the landowner.
Millwood’s final proposal is for a Phase I scheme reduced from 405 to 240 houses, and the affordable element reduced from 55% (222 homes) to 14% (33 homes) . No phase II scheme has been discussed and it is assumed it would never be built. As a result 33 affordable homes are all that would be built beyond 2026 and this proved unacceptable to the Town Council.
Several councillors made impassioned speeches describing the affordable houses as wholly inadequate, but when they advocated a specified larger number, Mr Kenyon advised their decision would be unsupported by the viability and affordable housing reports which he had promised a month ago but were still unavailable. And he advised against naming a figure which might not stand up to cross examination by a barrister if Millwood decide to appeal the decision.

The application now goes before the South Hams Council Development Control committee at Follaton House for a final decision. Since this will require the viability and affordable housing reports and can not be decided at their next meeting it is not clear if South Hams will be in default of its planning deadline and if the consequences could be serious.

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