As decision on 139 homes on former Wisbech college site goes into second year, housing chief again asks ‘why no affordables?’

139 homes proposed on former College of West Anglia site, Wisbech

139 homes proposed on former College of West Anglia site, Wisbech - Credit: Archant

Developer John Foster’s bid to build 139 homes on the former College of West Anglia horticultural campus on Elm High Road, Wisbech, remains undecided more than a year after it was submitted to Fenland District Council.

139 homes proposed on former College of West Anglia site, Wisbech

139 homes proposed on former College of West Anglia site, Wisbech - Credit: Archant

A recent amendment to the scheme covering types of houses proposed, minor changes to layout and road alignment, updated drainage strategy and transport assessment is currently being discussed among interested parties.

However in the past fortnight Olivia Manton, housing strategy and enabling officer for Fenland Council, has again questioned why the proposals make no mention of any affordable housing within the estate.

She says the council’s policy remains clear that 25 per cent of all development sites above 10 homes must be what is deemed affordable and she therefore expects Mr Foster to provide 35 such units.

She also says that based on Fenland’s need, 25 of these should include 15 x 2 bed houses, 4 x 3 bed houses, 4 x 1 bed houses and 2 x 4 plus bed houses.

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She says the other 10 should be what she terms for ‘intermediate tenure’ (which include shared equity and low cost starter homes but not social housing).

However Mr Foster’s agents are sticking to their original planning assessment which contained a confidential viability study sent to Fenland Council but withheld from the public planning register.

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Carter Jonas says: “The development proposals cannot viably deliver any affordable housing for two key years. Firstly the significant financial contributions that have been requested in respect of other planning obligations such as education.

“And secondly the generally low residential sales values of the area”.

The agents say their detailed viability appraisal has been provided to Fenland officers “in accordance with the council’s development plan policies”.

As the council approaches a decision on the scheme they will be asked to take note of 40 signatures on a petition from Falklands Drive residents.

They “strongly disapprove” of the opening and pathway showing opposite 35 Falklands Drive that they claim “with affect us all. This is a no through quiet road with a lot of elderly people and we would not like residents from the new housing estate walking through to the schools and college.”

They add that “the grassed piece of land is lovely as it is and we would like to keep it that way”.

Carter Jonas says of those who attended a public consultation on the proposals and responded to a survey, 59 per cent were generally supportive.

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