Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Knowle relocation project > Pegasus planning application 16/0872/MFUL >>> Strategy 4 - Balanced Communities >>> Strategy 34 - Affordable Housing Provision Targets

There are several Policies and Strategies in the Local Plan which the current planning application falls foul of - simply because its main features are pretty much the same as the failed application back in 2013:

And there are several other such Strategies which this latest application is 'contrary to':


There has been considerable concern of late about the District's ageing population - and what that means for the balance of communities:
Futures Forum: “We need a more balanced community." >>> "The Sid Valley needs a ‘long-term vision’ to attract more young people and families,"
Futures Forum: East Devon's demographic time bomb >>> >>> >>> >>> >>> "the District Council has a duty to create balanced communities"

It is also a concern of the District Council - as detailed in the Local Plan:

Strategy 4 - Balanced Communities

By balanced communities we mean that in any area or neighbourhood there is a match between jobs, homes, education, and social and community facilities. Ideally these should compliment the range of ages of the resident population and have appropriate access for those with disabilities. Key components of a balanced community include:

c) Getting more age-balanced communities - many East Devon communities have an overtly aged population profile. Where this is the case we will encourage residential development that will be suited to or provide for younger people and younger families.

And that means having more affordable housing:

Strategy 34 - District Wide Affordable Housing Provision Targets: 

Affordable housing will be required on residential developments in East Devon as follows . 

Areas to which higher (50%) affordable housing targets apply: 

Outside of the areas listed above (i.e. all other parts of East Devon including all settlements not listed, coastal and rural areas and Budleigh Salterton and Sidmouth) 50% of the dwellings shall be affordable subject to viability considerations. The 50% figure applies to all areas that do not come under the 25% classification and which are permitted under Strategy 35 ‘Exceptions’ policy. Where a proposal does not meet the above targets it will be necessary to submit evidence to demonstrate why provision is not viable or otherwise appropriate. An overage clause will be sought in respect of future profits and affordable housing provision, where levels of affordable housing fall below policy targets.

Five Year Land Supply and Sub-Housing Areas

20.5 The following table indentifies key monitoring indicators

Vision/Objective/ Aspiration:

Provide affordable housing to retain younger people in our neighbourhoods and communities as well as housing others in need 



All of this is confirmed through an FOI request into correspondence with the developer before a formal planning application was submitted:
Pre Application meetings with Pegasus - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

The senior Planning Officer dealing with the application has made it clear that the applicant has certain obligations - and there is also disagreement over the classification of the proposed development:

Our conclusion based on this assessment and a Counsel opinion is that the proposed units should be classed as C3 (dwelling houses). [Rather than the C2 classification desired by the applicant. See: Building Use Classes C1 C2 C3 - Planning Consultants London and Clarification of Planning Classes with regards to C3(b) and C2 - GovYou]

Turning to the issue of affordable housing the newly adopted policy of the East Devon Local Plan (Strategy 34) sets out a target of 50% affordable housing for residential development in Sidmouth. The presumption is that such affordable housing should be provided on site. As a result we will be seeking on-site provision of affordable housing in this case. We appreciate that the provision of your mandatory well-being care and support package is likely to be unviable to a registered provider but can see no reason given the layout of the proposed units on the site why your care and support package would have to apply to all residents. The facilities could still be available to residents of the affordable units on the same basis as they will be available to the wider community. We would however accept that it would be appropriate for the affordable units to also be age restricted and we believe that there is sufficient demand in the local area to fill the affordable units. Strategy 34 does allow for an offsite contribution of equivalent value to be provided where the inability to make provision on-site can be justified through evidence from Registered Providers or for other planning reasons. We would be open to considering a case for provision to be made off-site but as detailed above the presumption is that provision should be made on-site in the first instance and so the onus would be on yourselves to demonstrate to us why this would not be possible. You should also note that Strategy 34 is predicated on ensuring that developments are viable and so in the event that you believe that our requirements are unviable we are willing to consider a suitable robust and independent viability assessment. Our usual practice is to obtain an independent appraisal of such viability information through the District Valuer. We must advise at this stage that we would expect the cost of the District Valuer to be borne by the developer.

We understand that both the assessment that the scheme constitutes a C3 use and the level of affordable housing sought will come as a disappointment but we can assure you that these issues have undergone a very detailed consideration by Officers with appropriate independent legal opinion. To date we believe that we have had meaningful and constructive discussions and look forward to these continuing in respect of this issue. [And 'viability' is a very slippery commodity: 
Revealed: how developers exploit flawed planning system to minimise affordable housing | Cities | The Guardian and  The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities | Cities | The Guardian]


The question to ask, therefore, is: 
Why, then, did the District Council chose as its preferred developer a company which specialises in building 'assisted-living apartments and wellness facilities for over 60s'?
Introduction | PegasusLife
Pegasus agreement re Knowle - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

It had other bidders as part of the tendering process, but nevertheless preferred PegasusLife:
Decision process which led to the award of the conditional contract with Pegasus re Knowle - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

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