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Council approves plans to slash number of affordable homes on controversial estate

PUBLISHED: 06:08 15 July 2020 | UPDATED: 06:32 15 July 2020

A concept drawing of the 'central square' on the Treetops development, to be built on either side of Swanton Road in Dereham's north-east. Image: Planning and Access Statement/Node

A concept drawing of the 'central square' on the Treetops development, to be built on either side of Swanton Road in Dereham's north-east. Image: Planning and Access Statement/Node

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A Norfolk council has approved plans to reduce the amount of affordable housing on a 216 home estate from 40pc to 25pc.

A plan of the Treetops development, to be built on either side of Swanton Road in Dereham's north-east. Image: Planning and Access Statement/NodeA plan of the Treetops development, to be built on either side of Swanton Road in Dereham's north-east. Image: Planning and Access Statement/Node

Despite strong objections from Dereham Town Council (DTC), the town’s mayor and five district councillors, plans to reduce the amount of affordable housing on an already controversial development were approved by Breckland Council.

In a planning meeting which took place virtually on Tuesday, July 14, six councillors, including the chairman of the committee, Nigel Wilkin, voted to approve the plans while five councillors voted against the decision.

Plans to build 216 new homes at Swanton Road, in Dereham, were originally agreed in 2017.

But the scheme was discussed again at a meeting of Breckland Council’s planning committee, after the developer’s contributions towards schools, health facilities and library services were agreed, and objectors to the plans raised fears over the scheme’s transport assessment.

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On behalf of DTC, town clerk Tony Needham encouraged councillors to think about the 32 affordable homes that could be lost by the reduction.

He said: “I urge you to think about hard working families in Dereham and vote against this.”

Breckland councillor Philip Morton objected the decision, saying the request creates “a degree of cynicism around the planning process”, while councillor Alison Webb addressed the need for affordable homes urgently, especially post coronavirus.

District councillor Roger Attewill, who also objected to the plans, said he thought it was ‘time to take a stand’ against the developer before further projects also amend their affordable housing contributions.

He said: “If we do not put a line in this we will get this time and time again. It won’t just be in Dereham, it will be in all of our towns.”

But a council officer’s report, prepared ahead of a meeting on July 14, advises councillors to agree to the request, noting that Breckland has a “five year housing land supply” and 25pc affordable homes is all the regulations require according their the new local plan.

The report said: “This is not stated as the reason that the application was approved or that it was a major contributory factor in tipping the planning balance.”


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