Affordable housing won’t be included in first phase of major Haverfordwest development
Affordable housing will not have to be included in the first phase of a major Haverfordwest development, councillors have decided.
Following considerable discussion members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee approved an application by developer Conygar to vary Section 106 agreements previously made during the planning process.
The variations include removing the affordable housing element of the first phase of development at Slade Lane – around 29 houses – because it was considered “commercially unviable” to include the cheaper homes.
Planning for the large site includes more than 700 houses and 25 per cent of those are to be affordable homes, with the committee hearing that this allocation would be included in future phases or any plans to vary it would be brought back to committee.
A decision on the application had been deferred from October’s committee for more information from the District Valuer’s Office (DVO) and a move to send the matter to full council was not approved by councillors.
Haverfordwest Town Councillor Tom Moses told the committee on Tuesday (December 14) that affordable housing was definitely needed in the area, and it was “grossly unfair” that a large developer could avoid Section 106 requirements when smaller ones cannot.
David Jones, agent for Conygar, told members it was “purely a matter of commercial viability” and without the variations the development would not continue.
He added that well-known community housing group Pobl was in final negotiations to buy the whole site if variations were approved, with a high likelihood of a mix of housing being created.
Plans for more than 700 houses at the site were approved in 2014, along with a commercial site, and reserved matters for the first phase of 115 houses was approved in 2019.
Part payments of a transport contribution, sewage works contributions and footway works contribution, of around £2million have been paid to the council with other contributions linked to the occupation of the 200th dwelling.
It adds that the “DVO conclusion is not only that a fully Section 106 compliant scheme is not viable but that the development viability of the scheme does not currently support any of the affordable housing and financial obligations.”
Haverfordwest councillor Tim Evans added he felt “we are being held to ransom here” and the committee approved the application, which includes removing a proportion of transport mitigation and residential contributions, 12 votes to three.
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