Bid to remove affordable housing from Ticehurst development

A developer’s bid to remove affordable homes from a Ticehurst housing development is set to return to Rother planners this week. 

Monday, 12th April 2021, 3:19 pm

On Thursday (April 15), Rother District Council’s planning committee is set to consider a bid from developer Ticehurst Homes Ltd to remove a condition requiring it to build 12 affordable homes as part of a 30-home scheme at the Hillbury Field.

While the scheme was approved in outline back in 2016, Ticehurst Homes has since said it would be unaffordable to provide the affordable homes, which are required as part of a legal agreement attached to that planning permission. 

The developer has previously said this was partly because of the payment it was making towards the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which came in between the application being lodged and the application being approved.

Under planning law, a developer cannot be required to provide affordable housing if it can show the scheme wouldn’t be financially viable if the homes were built.

As a result, Ticehurst Homes sought permission in 2019 to reduce the number of affordable homes it would provide from 12 to three. But when that application came to committee, councillors opted to defer their decision to seek further evidence on viability. 

According to council documents, the developer has now provided that evidence and, as a result, is seeking permission to remove all the affordable housing required.  

The move has seen significant opposition raised by the Ticehurst community, including from Ticehurst Parish Council.

Despite these objections, Rother planning officers are recommending that the change be approved as a result of the developer’s evidence.

However, they are also recommending that the council add a review mechanism in its place, which would mean the provision of affordable housing could be revisited further down the line.

In a report to the committee, a council planning spokesman said: “Whilst the absence of any much-needed affordable housing is regrettable, the findings of the review support the applicant’s position and if the site is to be delivered for housing a situation of no affordable housing provision being made would have to be accepted in this case.

“However, it is also considered that a review mechanism to be ‘triggered’ at an agreed stage should be incorporated in the modification of the Section 106 agreement. 

“This would be based on a full viability review, once any further inputs become known. A review mechanism is important in this case to demonstrate that the council is doing everything possible to achieve a policy compliant position.”

For further detail on the application see planning reference RR/2019/1384/P on the Rother District Council website.