Calstock new build development may lose one third of affordable homes

By Liam Davies   |   Reporter   |
Thursday 23rd June 2022 9:30 am
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Bridge View
(Tindle )

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Calstock parish councillors have expressed concern over a house builder’s appeal to reduce the number of affordable homes on a new build site in Calstock.

Developers of Bridge View, the site of the former Bridge View Nurseries on Church Lane, want to reduce the number of affordable homes by a third and have gone to appeal following a refusal by Cornwall Council to amend their original planning permission. Consent was granted in 2018 for 33 homes on the basis that 15 would be affordable including five self build homes.

The housebuilder now claims that a three year delay in starting the development caused by Cornwall Council has significantly impacted the viability of the scheme, leaving parish councillors concerned that they may be left without any affordable homes on the site at all.

At the most recent Calstock Parish Council meeting, Cornwall councillor Dorothy Kirk said: ‘Originally these new builds were meant to be 33 houses with 15 affordable — 10 homes and five self-builds. We supported this development on the basis of affordable housing but now the housebuilder is claiming he can’t afford to build this by trying to prove he can’t make a profit from the sale of market housing (a sufficient amount of which is needed to fund the building of the affordable homes) by drawing comparison to house prices in places such as Bere Alston and Tavistock.’

House prices, on average, are higher in Calstock — situated on the River Tamar in a World Heritage Site — than in Bere Alston, according to Zoopla.

Cllr Kirk added: ‘The definition of affordable is a percentage of the open market price and that has varied. It’s normally around about 70%. It really doesn’t work because the imposition of the developer of the need to build affordables simply puts up the price of the open market houses. Avoiding affordable houses and building just market homes will mean solely making a profit.’

Cllr Alistair Tinto also said at the meeting: ‘We understand that the developer has employed a firm of solicitors who specialise in getting developers off their Section 106  liabilities and this legal team boast that they have never failed. This all just proves that trying to build affordable housing using the private sector is just a complete nonsense — it doesn’t work. We were told that because planners had put conditions on the original permission there was lots of dilly dallying and now the developers say the viability has been affected. Cutting the number of houses by one third is egregious but if this proposal ends up with no affordable housing there are very many people in Calstock who will feel very let down by this.’

Section 106 agreements are put in place when planning permissions are granted so developers contribute towards affordable housing or local services or infrastructure.

Spokesperson for Bridge View in Calstock Michael Wight said that minor changes had been asked for but it was not true that affordable housing had been removed from the scheme: ‘They had asked for 10 affordable homes instead of 15 — which complied with Cornwall Council’s current policy of 30% affordable housing — and various other changes.

‘Due to Cornwall Council’s refusal of our Section 73 application to amend the planning permission, we have been forced to appeal the decision and this matter is now in the hands of the Planning Inspectorate. Delays have had a detrimental effect on the viability of the scheme. Cornwall Council’s refusal to engage in any meaningful way has damaged the development at Bridge View and the village as a whole.

‘As part of this appeal process, we are required to provide evidence to support our appeal. An element of this is a viability study, which has been collated by professionals using local data available at this time. We have retained the services of a specialist company to ensure correct information is presented to the council and the Planning Inspectorate. The appeal will be determined by a planning inspector.’

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