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Developer's bid to scrap all affordable housing Southend Council has asked it to provide
A COMPANY says it needs to scrap all the affordable housing it was asked to build alongside four new developments or it will drop the projects at altogether.
Sandhurst Newhomes has permission to build more than 100 flats at sites at 53 Pavilion Drive, Leigh, the former Shell garage on London Road, Westcliff, at 845-849 London Road, Chalkwell and on 86-104 Salisbury Avenue and 211-213 North Road, Westcliff.
It is using new Government legislation to apply to remove all the affordable housing conditions, known as section 106 agreements, attached to the plans.
The company says a changing economic climate means that the schemes will not be viable in the current market with the conditions attached.
Conservative Blenheim Park ward councillor James Courtenay said: “Section 106 agreements aren’t calling on them to build houses and give them away, they are often sold on to housing associations for affordable housing that people desperately need.
“House prices haven’t changed that much in the last couple of years, where I’m trying to call in two of the applications, and I hope the developer will think again.
“I think new government legislation on this has far less affect in the south east where the difference between building costs and house prices is much higher than in the north.”
Sandhurst Newhomes managing director Brian Strickland confirmed he was using newly introduced legislation designed to ease the burden on developers from councils.
He said: “These councillors have no idea about business. The new legislation means that if they refuse or don’t make a decision within 28 days it goes straight to the Secretary of State to decide.
“Southend Council has a policy of taking 20 per cent of everything you want to build as affordable housing. That’s been superceded by the help to buy scheme which gives first time buyers 25 per cent towards the cost of a home.
“It would be much better for the local economy, local builders and the housing situation to let us get these houses built, otherwise they’re going to be asking for 20 per cent of nothing in terms of affordable homes.”
According to Southend Council’s website, permission was granted for the schemes at different dates between 2008 and 2011.
Mr Strickland said he only agreed to build the affordable housing in 2011 as council officers warned him the permission would not be extended otherwise.
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