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Home builder given green light to halve affordable housing provision in village scheme

PUBLISHED: 16:27 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:48 31 January 2019

A home builder is looking to slash the number of affordable houses in a development in Spooner Row. Picture: Paul Hewitt

A home builder is looking to slash the number of affordable houses in a development in Spooner Row. Picture: Paul Hewitt

A home builder has been given permission to more than halve the number of affordable homes across a twin development - in what has been described as a “regrettable” decision.

Vic Thomson, Conservative candidate for Henstead. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Vic Thomson, Conservative candidate for Henstead. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

J Alston and Sons Ltd was given the green light to build six affordable homes in Spooner Row, when it had originally promised to provide 13.

The homes were part of a 39-home development split across Chapel Road and Bunwell Road in the village near Wymondham - originally making up 33pc of the project.

However, after landowner James Alston described a “relentless rise” in the costs of delivering the development, councillors agreed to grant him the reduction.

His application set out how as the development was set across two separate sites, certain overheads would be doubled and consequently it had been found the development would not be financially viable

He said: “While we obviously knew when we originally applied that the development was across two sites, we have faced a relentless rise in the cost of both labour and material, which have taken the overall cost away from what we had anticipated.

“In proposing to still build six, we have shown our commitment to providing affordable housing for Spooner Row, when it would have been more viable for us to provide none.”

Mr Alston said he would also be pumping £56,000 into the local school and £15,000 towards improving the village hall - sums which would be taken from the scheme’s eventual profit.

It was also argued that with construction already under way on early phases of the scheme, costs were proving higher and value proving lower than estimated.

Members of South Norfolk Council’s planning committee reluctantly voted to grant Mr Alston permission to reduce the number of homes.

Conservative councillor Christopher Kemp said: “While I am disappointed, six affordable homes is better than none, which we may have been faced with otherwise. This is the only reason I can support this application.”

Vic Thomson, chairman of the committee said: “I think we can all be agreed that this a regrettable decision to have to make.”

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