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Affordable Housing

Councillors slam lack of affordable housing in proposed Middlewich scheme

A major developer is being asked to think again over plans to build 74 homes near Middlewich after councillors slammed a lack of affordable housing.

Cheshire East Council’s strategic planning board also wants to see if Seddon Construction should provide cash for schools and NHS services instead of £400,000 towards the Middlewich eastern bypass if it gets the go-ahead for the scheme off Warmingham Lane, in Moston.

The developer had proposed just eight affordable houses in the scheme, which would have completed the allocation set in CEC’s local plan for Glebe Farm and taken the total number of new houses along Warmingham Lane in Middlewich and Moston to 1,102.

CEC officers recommended the scheme for approval ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, and Jenny Friar, representing Seddon, urged the committee to agree – suggesting there were ‘clear economic, social and environmental benefits’ to it.

She added: “While viability concerns have influenced the mix of house types proposed on site, the proposed scheme provides a mix of house sizes that seeks to address local housing need as identified in the Moston neighbourhood plan.”

But Cllr David Nixon, chairman of Moston Parish Council, insisted the lack of financial contribution for health and education – and the failure to hit CEC’s own 30 per cent target for affordable housing – ‘cannot be justified’.

“This measly affordable housing will do nothing to enable couples to get onto the housing ladder,” he said.

“If viability can’t be achieved with contributions to education, health infrastructure and affordable housing, the view of Moston Parish Council is the developer should walk away.”

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Cllr Nixon added that the Moston neighbourhood plan was disregarded by officers – suggesting the scheme went against its policies on design, housing mix and housing type.

Road safety along Warmingham Lane was also questioned by Cllr Mike Hunter, Labour member for Middlewich, who argued the access points to each new development on the road were too close – but officers insisted they were satisfied with the distances.

There had been requests for a £366,272 contribution from the developer towards education provision, as well as £76,896 for the NHS, £90,886 towards public open space and £13,000 for indoor sport and recreation facilities.

But Seddon argued this would not be viable alongside the bypass contribution and affordable housing target – and independent consultants Gerald Eve agreed with the builder’s assessment – leaving councillors concerned that CEC would have to pick up the cost for mitigating the scheme.

Cllr David Jefferay, Residents of Wilmslow, said: “If we are in a position where we have got a five-year [housing land] supply, we should be able to walk away if this is going to leave us with a big liability.”

His concerns were shared by Cllr Ashley Farrall, Labour, who felt the council should not allow its own 30 per cent affordable housing target to be ignored.

He added: “It just looks to me like this is some executive housing scheme just built for pure profit and not for the housing needs of this area.”

Source: CheshireLive

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