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Breckland Council being made “a laughing stock” over affordable housing quotas

PUBLISHED: 10:36 25 November 2014 | UPDATED: 11:03 25 November 2014

Breckland Council. Picture: Ian Burt

Breckland Council. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

Breckland Council is being “made a laughing stock” by developers who want to ignore their affordable housing responsibilities, according to its members.

The claim came at the council’s planning committee on Monday after developer Baker & Nisbet asked to remove the affordable housing requirements on a seven property development in Croxton Road, Thetford.

Permission for the project was granted in November 2012, with two of the units required to be affordable housing as part of a Section 106 agreement.

Work on the project is at an “advanced stage”, according to officers.

But Baker & Nisbet now claim the project is now “not viable” if the affordable housing requirement is kept, and has asked for it to be removed so the houses can be sold on the open market.

The developer claims without the affordable housing requirement, they will produce a return of 14pc. The government’s advised figure for viability is 20pc.

Council officers advised members to axe the affordable housing requirement.

Councillor Trevor Carter said negotiations with developers tended to be one-sided.

“I am all for flexibility but my only concern is that it only seems to go one way,” he said.

Councillor Sylvia Armes said: “I am extremely disappointed because we did compromise by saying we’d take one unit, and that seems to have been thrown out completely.

“We are being made a laughing stock. We need the affordable housing in Thetford and the developers need to recognise that fact.”

Members agreed to defer the decision in order for negotiations to take place with Baker & Nisbet.

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