Melton 'Cheese wedge' homes plan rejected

An artist's impression of how the homes will look Image copyright Active Urban Property Group
Image caption The design of the homes, shown here in an artist's impression overlooking the River Deben near Woodbridge, have been likened to wedges of cheese

Planning permission for 100 homes shaped like "cheese wedges" has been refused after the number of affordable properties included was halved.

The homes, for the former Suffolk Coastal District Council office site at Melton, were approved in April.

Developer Active Urban then withdrew the plans and resubmitted them with 15 affordable homes, not the original 32.

Cllr Susan Harvey said: "On what was our own site, we should be developing affordable housing at its full level."

Active Urban's amended proposal was exactly the same as the one approved in April - bar an application for Vacant Building Credit (VBC).

These were introduced by government in 2016 with the aim of offering developers a financial credit when local authorities work out how much affordable housing should be built as part of any redevelopment of vacant buildings.

At the Conservative-run authority's planning committee, council officers said the council site was not eligible for the scheme as it had been empty for too long.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The former council offices will be demolished

David Hughes, from Active Urban based in Great Shelford near Cambridge, argued that the VBC option was not available when the plans were originally drawn up and said affordable housing providers had shown a lack of interest in the site.

"Those registered providers are not coming forward with levels they were previously," he said.

"Our viability issues would be resolved through the VBC. We didn't wish to withdraw [the plan], but the scheme would not have been delivered without that action being taken."

Mr Hughes refused to be drawn on whether the firm would appeal against the decision or submit a fresh application, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said.

Cllr Michael Gower said the former-council site was "complex".

"This is another example of a new bit of legislation for something completely different being used to allow developers to get out of their responsibilities," he said.

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