Posted: Sat 27th Apr 2024

Planners Approve Pembrokeshire Residential Development Despite Affordable Housing Concerns /

A near-£10m Pembrokeshire residential development of 52 homes has been backed by planners despite concerns it will provide just four affordable homes.
In an application before Pembrokeshire County Council’s April planning committee, Wakefield Pembrokeshire Ltd sought permission for the development, which includes four one-bed affordable housing units, on land near Pilgrims Way, Roch.
Committee members were recommended to approve the council’s head of planning be delegated to approve the application, subject to the completion of a Section 106 planning obligation, making community financial contributions.
18 objections to the scheme were received, raising concerns including an “inadequate” affordable housing level, it being a high density development for a rural area, a loss of green space, the size of some of the homes, and pressures on existing services and facilities, and fears it may lead to an increase in second homes.
Nolton & Roch Community Land Trust (N&RCLT) has raised its concerns about a lack of affordable homes at the development, calling for a 20 per cent affordable homes element, as recommended by policy.
An officer report for members, recommending conditional approval, concluded: “It is apparent that the proposed development is not fully policy compliant, insofar as it cannot deliver the indicative 20 per cent affordable housing sought [by policy].
“However, a substantial positive social impact will arise through the provision of housing, including four one-bed affordable housing units, in meeting identified needs for both market and affordable housing.
“Financial obligations identified to mitigate adverse impacts arising from the proposed development cannot be met in full. However, [policy] acknowledges that in such circumstances contributions may be prioritised on the basis of the individual circumstances of each case.”
Speaking at the meeting, agent Gethin Beynon said the project had a “significant economic value” of around £10m, and the local applicant had “a sense of stewardship to the local community,” offering affordable housing and community infrastructure towards highways and education.
He said that changes to the affordable homes provision would make the scheme unviable following “dramatic changes” in labour costs post-Covid.
Dave Smith of Nolton & Roch Community Land Trust said, on the issue of affordable housing, there was a local need for more two and three-bed properties, adding: “More than a third of dwellings are already second homes, holiday lets or empty properties; villages and communities are being hollowed out.”
Moving approval, Cllr Mark Carter said the scheme was good but “could be better for the community” with more and larger affordable homes.
Cllr Jordan Ryan expressed his concern at the small number of affordable units, and was told that, while officers shared disappointment at the number, it was based on two independent viability assessments.
The application was backed by nine votes to four. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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