Affordable housing level cut following application from developer

Huntingdonshire District Council was asked to consider a viability report.

Huntingdonshire District Council was asked to consider a viability report. - Credit: Archant

An application to reduce the amount of affordable housing required on a new development in Bury has been approved by planning officials.

Upwood Estates was granted permission by Huntingdonshire District Council in 2015 to redevelop a former US Air Force (USAF) clinic at RAF Upwood into 60 new homes, with a requirement that some 40 per cent of the homes be affordable.

However, Upwood Estates made a fresh application to the district council last year under section 106BA of the Town and Country Planning Act, requesting the requirement for 40 per cent affordable housing be reduced to nothing, as the development would otherwise be unviable.

The district council considered evidence supplied by agents acting for the developer, before commissioning its own viability assessment, carried out by the Valuation Office Agency.

In a report on the application, development management team leader, Charlotte Fox, said: “Based on the viability evidence submitted and independently reviewed on behalf of the council it was established that the scheme at 40 per cent was unviable, but a scheme with some affordable housing provision would be viable.

“Following consideration of issues raised in the independent report commissioned by the council, the applicants have amended the application to change the proportion of affordable housing provided from zero to eight per cent.

“In the light of the advice given by the council’s independent advisers, officers are of the view that this proportion is the maximum which can be provided without rendering the scheme unviable, and that refusal of the application could therefore not be justified.”

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Under the terms of the new agreement, Upwood Estates will have to provide about five affordable homes, compared to the 24 homes it would have had to provide at a rate of 40 per cent affordable housing.

The six-acre site remained in use by the USAF’s 423rd Medical Squadron when RAF Upwood was returned to British hands in 1995, and provided outpatient services and dental care to service personnel.

The clinic was finally closed in 2012 when the services were transferred to RAF Alconbury.