Questions raised over ‘affordable housing’ deal struck with developer over Rotherham site

A development of 66 new homes has been approved on former farmland in Rotherham under an application which raised questions from residents and councillors about traffic problems and the amount of affordable housing it will generate.

Thursday, 14th March 2019, 3:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th March 2019, 1:33 pm
Congestion: Councillors have concerns about traffic levels in Melton High Street
Congestion: Councillors have concerns about traffic levels in Melton High Street

Persimmon Homes want to build on land Highfield Farm, off Melton High Street in Wath, but there has been a wrangle between the property firm and the council’s own officials about whether the development could support the 25 per cent meant to be given over to affordable housing.

An external assessor suggested a figure of 18 per cent would be viable, but Rotherham Council have still questioned the predicted sale prices of homes to be built there, believing they will be higher than the developer’s estimate.

As such, a clause has been written into the permission that if sales pass a financial threshold, the council will be able to claw back 40 per cent of the additional profits from some homes on the site to help provide affordable housing elsewhere.

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Persimmon will provide six bungalows on site, to be handed over for renting by the council or a housing association, provided at a reduced cost.

The council is keen to get bungalows to provide homes for the town’s high numbers of over 65-year-olds but, because of the large amount of land needed for single storey homes, treats them as a ‘two for one’ in numbers terms, accepting one bungalow where otherwise two houses would be expected.

Several residents spoke at a planning board meeting where the scheme was approved, citing concerns about traffic, possible disturbance to an owl on site and overlooking.

Coun David Roche addressed the meeting as a speaker and said: “I have concerns about the road. At rush hour, it is a nightmare. At morning and afternoon school opening and closing times cars are parked from Brampton Road almost to the access (to the site).

“It will impact on that access when it is finished,” he said.

When planning board members discussed the proposal, Coun Brian Steele described the road as a “bottleneck” but Coun Alan Atkin said: “We get this outside every school. I wish I had a magic wand and could stop it. But we cannot stymie development.”

Highways officials have decided the road network in the area is capable of accommodating the additional traffic which will be generated by new residents.