Developer allowed to miss ‘affordable housing’ target on independent advice

A planning board councillor has warned his local authority is failing to meet targets for providing affordable housing as it passed plans which allow a developer to provide just half the cheap homes set down in recently adopted rules.

Barnsley Council now requires different levels of affordable housing, as part of new developments, in different parts of the borough, with the highest – at 30 per cent – where house prices are highest and demand greatest, in the two Penistone wards.

But councillors were recommended to – and did – approve plans for 29 new homes on a former industrial site in New Road, Tankersley, which will produce only four affordable homes rather than the eight expected under the 30 per cent rule.

They were told a viability study had been conducted, to assess whether it would be profitable to develop the site with the full 30 per cent of affordable homes, which would have yielded eight, but it had been agreed that four homes, or 14 per cent, of the development would be acceptable.

Head of planning, Joe Jenkinson, told the meeting viability assessments were carried out independently and the site was brownfield, meaning the developer was likely to face additional costs.

“If you don’t negotiate, there is a danger sites would just sit there undeveloped,” he said.

The council’s Local Plan, for housing and business development, was adopted in January and has “ambitious” targets for house building, he said, meaning the council needs to see progress with new developments.

However, Coun Paul Hand-Davis told the meeting: “We have a target of 30 per cent and we are not meeting it. This board has got to start delivering.”

Coun Robin Franklin also questioned whether the sewer system in the area would be adequate to cope with the extra demand from additional housing.