Chatteris scheme promises affordables as Fenland Council asked to drop them for Wisbech St Mary scheme

Approval expected for 58 homes at West Street, Chatteris

Approval expected for 58 homes at West Street, Chatteris - Credit: Archant

Expected approval of 58 homes at Chatteris will include 15 affordable homes – in stark contrast to an application for 80 homes at Wisbech St Mary where developers are arguing that providing affordable homes is no longer viable.

The Chatteris scheme – for land west and south of 74 West Street – is before Fenland Council planning committee next Wednesday.

A section 106 agreement will also provide £250,000 towards education and £90,000 of mixed leisure and health contributions.

However over at Wisbech St Mary, Queensbridge Homes Ltd want to build 80 instead of 50 homes on a nine acre site but is asking Fenland Council to strip away affordable housing requirements.

“It remains the case that the majority of development in Fenland is marginal in terms of overall viability”, says 3D Planning on behalf of Queensbridge Homes Ltd.

Included is a confidential “bespoke viability assessment” from Maxey Grounds and Co.

3D Planning says the report “confirms the development can only be viable if it is not encumbered with S106 obligations or the provision of affordable housing and that the developer accepts a reduced return”.

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If agreed this would sweep away many of the legal provisions of the first application – agreed two years ago - that allowed for 25 per cent of the 50 homes to be classified as affordable.

Also included was £12,000 to the NHS for health care, £200,000 for education and £75,000 for leisure and open spaces.

3D is relying on a recent ruling by the Planning Inspectorate to increase the number of homes on the site following a ruling – following an appeal at Christchurch -that Fenland cannot identify a five year housing land supply. This opens the door to more homes being built with fewer restrictions.

Wisbech agent Peter Humphrey says planners need to take note of the recent ruling and he asked “when will Fenland Council accept that this is not a viable area for free homes?”

He posted on Twitter: “You need to look how much s106 contributions are. I have one site where education contributions are more than land value.... what’s all that about! If affordable Policy was 5-10 per cent may be acceptable.”

One member of Fenland planning committee said that retaining confidentiality of viability assessments and not allowing elected members to see them was wrong.

“It’s a waste of time being on this committee,” said the councillor.