Telford housing project developer looks to remove affordable housing allocation

The developer behind a major Telford housing project says it is “not viable” to provide a quarter of its homes at affordable rent, and is applying to remove the allocation from a phase approved two years ago.

The application will be considered by Telford & Wrekin Council's planning committee.
The application will be considered by Telford & Wrekin Council's planning committee.

“Phase 10” of the Lawley Village Developer Group’s 3,300-home “sustainable urban extension” consisted of 187 houses between Station Road and the B5072.

Approved in 2019, it included 23 units to be offered at below-market prices.

But Telford and Wrekin Council planners says the group has applied to “remove the obligation to provide affordable housing on phase 10”.

It adds that, if a grant application is successful, alternative affordable housing could partially replace it, but this is “not guaranteed”.

Their report recommends the Planning Committee approves the amendment when it meets on Wednesday, June 30, saying “the benefits in terms of allowing the site to come forward will significantly and demonstrably outweigh the harm”.

Outline permission for the full estate, which includes employment, commercial and leisure facilities as well as homes, was granted in 2005.

An agreement signed at the time “secured the obligation of the developer to provide 25 per cent of the dwellings as affordable housing”, planners write.

“The applicants have provided a viability appraisal to demonstrate that bringing the site forward is not viable with an obligation to provide 25 per cent affordable housing,” the report says.

“The applicant is therefore seeking members’ approval to remove the obligation to provide affordable housing on phase 10 of the site.”

Other phases have included general needs affordable housing allocations as low as 12.5 per cent, the report adds.

“Since the economic downturn the developers have sought to reduce the amount of affordable housing on various phases as they have been brought forward,” it says.

If approved, the proposed variation would remove the obligation from phase 10 altogether but, the report adds, “provides the opportunity for the developer to seek grant funding for on-site affordable housing delivery”.

“This outcome is not guaranteed,” it says, adding that the LVDG and the Wrekin Housing Group are in “continued dialogue” and an “indicative offer for 19 affordable dwellings, 10 per cent of the total”, has been made.

The report says council housing officers “welcome the offer in principle”, but note that it is conditional.

LVDG’s viability appraisal found that delivering phase 10 with 25 per cent affordable housing at the agreed 62 per cent of market value would produce a deficit of just over £1 million.

“When assessed on a 100 per cent market sale basis, the viability appraisal states that the viability deficit reduces to £447,313,” the report adds.

The council’s independent assessor “concludes that the provision of affordable housing within the proposed development is not viable, in agreement with the applicants”.

The report says: “Even with no affordable housing provision, the scheme is still unviable, however, the reduced level of unviability would still allow the scheme to be brought forward.”

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