Campaigners’ concerns at the location intended for affordable housing on farmland objectors fought for four years to protect failed to persuade councillors from giving them the green light.
Homebuilders Redrow have approval for 2,000 houses on land at Ledsham Road, Little Sutton, including 145 in a 21-acre first phase.
The borough’s strategic planning committee heard they wished to increase the number to 170 in response to market demand for smaller detached dwellings, although the area covered by the new build would be no greater than before.
Forty three of the dwellings would be affordable. The campaigning Ledsham and Manor Action Group (LAMAG) protested what it claimed would be 85% of the affordable homes would be clustered together behind or close to existing residents on Wetherby Way.
The group believed this would not succeed in achieving a balanced and integrated layout of affordable housing in the new neighbourhood.Although the application was recommended for approval activists seized on comments by planning and housing officers that the proposed layout would benefit from a redistribution of some of the affordable homes.
This would bring them in line with planning policy which required affordable housing to be dispersed throughout a development unless there were specific circumstances or benefits.
The group was also concerned that although over 3,000 residents who opposed the overall development on what has been described as Ellesmere Port’s last farm were told loss of view was not a planning matter, Redrow justified clustering the affordable housing together so that larger and bigger detached houses could enjoy the rural aspect of the site.
The homebuilder described the new layout as a ‘vast improvement’ on the earlier permission.
Principal planning officer Paul Friston told the committee that in recommending approval the council had looked carefully at the distribution of the affordable housing.
A late report explained Redrow had provided a justification and private properties would be built amongst the blocks of mews type affordable homes.
The mainly two and three bed affordable dwellings with a small number of apartments would be built to the same standards as the market homes in a series of small clusters.
‘On balance’ refusal could not be recommended suggested Mr Friston. The council accepted the principle of clustering affordable housing within a development rather than ‘pepper potting’ the homes around the neighbourhood.
Ledsham and Manor ward councillor Peter Rooney (Lab) said he had been given no indication the application was acceptable. Unless there were the required specific circumstances and benefits it should not go ahead.
But in under a quarter of an hour the committee voted the application through on an 8-1 vote in favour.
LAMAG had hoped councillors would insist that affordable home occupiers should be able to enjoy the rural aspect of the site which was something existing residents had now lost.
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