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‘Disgraceful’ decision to allow no affordable homes at new development

Payne Bros building is to be converted into thirty four flats Payne Bros building is to be converted into thirty four flats

Thursday, August 28, 2014
7:00 AM

A proposal to build 34 flats, none of which will be affordable, has been ushered through by the council - despite its own target to make 50 per cent of new builds affordable.

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Councillors at the Regulatory Services Committee did not debate the plan to demolish a warehouse in Oldchurch Road, Romford, and voted unanimously in its support.

Initially it was agreed the site would have 13 affordable homes but now none will be built because the cheaper housing would make the development commercially unfeasible, according to planning manager Suzanne Terry’s report.

But Havering’s Labour leader Cllr Keith Darvill has labelled the decision as “disgraceful”.

While builders Payne Bros will have to pay a £216,000 levy towards infrastructure costs this is not enough, Cllr Darvill said.

“There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have infrastructure levy and affordable homes,” he said.

“Affordable housing is desperately needed. As every day goes past I get more people coming to me complaining about one or another housing problem. They all stem from the lack of affordable housing.”

A Recorder article last week showed the startling number of young families living in temporary hostels because they cannot afford housing of their own. Havering’s housing needs manager Jonathan Geall largely blamed overcrowded homes and young parents inability to afford adequate housing.

One councillor who sat on the committee, Cllr Graham Williamson, agreed that the borough needs more affordable housing but said there was not enough time to debate the matter at the meeting.

The Independent Residents’ Group member said: “It wasn’t debated because there were other debates that went on.”

Cllr Damian White, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This development of 34 properties has been the subject of numerous negotiations to try and find an appropriate outcome for everyone.

“Independent experts looked in detail at the financial viability of this case, and agreed that the developers would not be able to provide affordable housing.”

David Payne, Payne Bros director, said: “I’m just happy with whatever the council has decided.”

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