Councillors have rejected a request from a housing developer to scrap the affordable housing provision on an Annesley estate due to its lower than expected profit margins.
Persimmon Homes, which is building the Jasmine Gardens estate on the former Annesley Colliery site, applied to Ashfield District Council to cancel all of the affordable housing requirement for the site, as set out in a Section 106 agreement.
The application was made because the company claims that if it sticks to building the agreed amount of affordable housing, it will not achieve a 20 per cent return on the remaining development, only an ‘unsatisfactory’ 15.51 per cent.
But the council’s planning committee unanimously rejected the application - despite the potential threat that Persimmon would take the issue to the Planning Inspectorate.
Speaking at the meeting, a spokesman for Persimmon said that the development was ‘not economically viable’ because it would not meet its minimum profit margin target of 20 per cent, in part because the land had been bought at a higher price than what it was now worth.
The company claimed that the development has ‘stalled’ because it would usually have expected it to have sold out by now but it has only sold half the properties.
It also doubted the need for affordable housing in Ashfield as it has found it ‘extremely difficult’ to find a housing association partner to work with.
However council planners disputed these claims in their report.
It said that the findings of an external independent financial assessor were that ‘between 15 per cent and 20 per cent return on the gross development value could be deemed acceptable for a scheme on a site of this nature in Ashfield given present market conditions’.
They found that 77 dwellings are occupied and construction is still underway - so it has not stalled.
Meanwhile, they said the ‘need for affordable housing in this locality remains apparent’, with housing developments usually requiring 10 per cent affordable housing, not the six per cent accepted for this development.
Councillors all agreed that the application should be rejected on these grounds.
Coun Rachel Madden, who called in the application, said: “We should stick to our principles on affordable housing in Kirkby.”