Concerns have been raised over a bid to remove the affordable housing requirement from an old planning permission for more than 100 homes in Hastings.
Developers John Laing is applying to Hastings Borough Council for the 103 homes it was given approval to build nine years ago not to include 31 affordable ones, which would make it ‘not viable’ financially.
The homes were made into student accommodation but as the University of Brighton no longer needs them, Laing is looking to convert it back.
Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Perry is worried about its proximity to the Greenway route, a designated cycle path through Hastings, and the possible impact on those in need of affordable homes.
“I am very concerned at the possible loss of the affordable units based, it appears, on two confidential reports.
“This is already an over-bearing scheme that has strayed very close to blocking the Greenway route, and was barely acceptable as student flats.
‘When the town is in a housing crisis, the potential loss of affordable housing via deals done behind closed doors is totally unacceptable.”
Hastings Borough Council gave Laing permission to build the Station Plaza complex, complete with the Sussex Coast College Hastings campus, 103 homes, health facilites, shops, car parking and access in May, 2007.
The council, as standard practice, placed a Section 106 condition on the permission meaning 30 per cent of the residential section would be affordable housing.
But legislative changes in 2013 means developers can ask for the condition removed if it can prove the affordable housing element would make the overall profit too small to be ‘viable’.
In Laing’s application, it says it is ‘important’ for the homes to be built but the rise in construction costs and other factors, including the stall in the land prices, makes the scheme ‘unviable’.
“The Viability Appraisal submitted (on a confidential basis) sets out the relevant calculations and explains why the scheme cannot provide affordable housing even at reduced margins for the developer. However, despite this, the developer is prepared to proceed at a reduced margin, on the basis that the affordable housing obligation is removed,” the application says.
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