- Councillor Brian GreensladeLeader of Executive, Nth Devon Council
We, the undersigned support the request to change Policy HSG7 which is unjust and unworkable and appears to be selective in its application.
Can this Unjust Planning Policy be changed?
We wish to retire from our business which we have run for 17 years, working 100+ hours a week. We are both in our 60s and it’s time for us to have a well earned retirement.
We applied to convert our home and Guest House into 3 dwellings a net increase of 2 dwellings. It complies with all current planning requirements and received no objections from any source.
However, planning have refused to grant permission unless we surrender one of the dwellings as an affordable home, the personal financial loss to us will be in the region of £180,000.00. We didn’t know it at the time of our enquiry that North Devon’s trigger for the delivery of an affordable home is 2 – i.e. build two and effectively give one away. Government guidelines suggested a trigger of 1 in 15 and North Devon has the most extreme requirement in the country. It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that this is not affordable by anyone.
The viability study which we undertook at the request of the planners concluded that if we convert the building into 3 dwellings and sell them on the open market we will break even or possibly make a small profit. It’s an old building after all. The Local Planning Authority have accepted the findings, but as Government guidelines recommend we make a 20% profit, the Local Planning Authority insist we must deliver an affordable home and their reasoning is as follows: “it is considered that if the scheme is to be pursued for non-financial reasons any scheme which results in two additional dwellings should provide an affordable unit”
We went to Appeal but apparently the Planning Inspectorate agrees with the Local Planning Authority. This is absurd! If we deliver an affordable home we will have nothing left except a 1/3 share of our house. The Inspector agrees that there is a desperate need for affordable homes in the area, but in the last couple of months the Authority have agreed to 40 new holiday apartments and another 24 holiday homes in 2011. I stress the word ‘holiday’, as these developments were capable of delivering affordable homes and the council policy clearly states that they should “If it was open market housing there would be an affordable housing requirement and holiday lets are no different, they are within the same class use” – Mrs J Jeyes, Housing Enabling Officer, North Devon Council. Also there is nothing to say on the decisions notices that these 64 dwellings, capable of delivering affordable homes too will always be classed as holiday lets, so their use could change in the future.
It seems unfair that we must endure a loss of £180k as a result of this planning decision, while bigger housing developers get away without paying anything.
- We know that the Planning Officer deliberately withheld the information re: affordables to put us in this position.
- The Planners cited only one example of a similar case to ours, but the owner lost £200,000 and had to leave his home.
- The planners have not made the same stipulation on similar cases where the profit element is not material. I can cite 2 examples here.
- A total of 64 holiday homes/dwellings have been approved in the area and no affordable contribution has been required.
- We are aware of a similar planning application “The Ring o’ Bells” at Landkey where the property developer who recently bought the building got change of use to 2 dwellings and no affordables without any trouble at all though he bought it with planning permission for change of use to 3 dwellings with 1 affordable.
- We recently asked if we could split our home/business into two residential dwellings similar to “The Ring o’ Bells”but the reply was “where, in the opinion of the Council, a developer has deliberately avoided the appropriate threshold by sub-dividing or phasing the site into smaller plots or through the inefficient use of the land by reducing the potential number of dwellings that could be built, an element of affordable housing will still be sought within the scheme”.
- Finally, the need for affordable dwellings is not as it seems. The council quotes a number of statistics that have not been proven sufficiently, for instance a household can express the desire to live in as many parishes as they wish and each request counts as an individual housing need.
- Leader of Executive, Nth Devon Council
Councillor Brian Greenslade
Can this unjust Planing Policy be changed?
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