Councillors will today decide their response to a developer’s planning appeal for Haverhill’s old magistrates’ court site.
Churchill Retirement Living wants to use the Camps Road court and care home site for ‘high quality, self-contained homes’ designed for the over 60s with a ‘lodge manager’, 24 hour careline and communal lounge. There would also be housing for sale next to that.
But in November it accused St Edmundsbury Borough Council of ‘blocking’ the project and lodged an appeal for non-determination of the application.
Andrew Burgess, planning director of Churchill Retirement Living, said then: “The approach being taken by the council is unreasonable, irresponsible and illogical.
“We recognise our responsibility to provide affordable housing contributions, however, this has to be provided as part of an economically viable development that is deliverable.
“This is the only fundamental issue between us and the council and we are keen to resolve it and start work on the development.”
But a council spokeswoman said: “The borough’s democratically-approved affordable housing policy is for 30 per cent to be provided by developers – Churchill offered less than five per cent. We will await the result of the non-determination appeal.”
Today, the borough’s Development Control Committee will be asked to decide what its decision would have been if the application was not going before a planning inspector for determination.
Officers recommend refusal on the grounds that the scheme does not provide on-site affordable housing, only offers a small financial contribution in lieu and ‘does not fully accord’ with the borough’s development plan.
Officers say that Churchill has demonstrated affordable housing would not be viable but add: “In the opinion of the officers, this is because the applicant appears to have offered a price for the site that has regard to meeting policy requirements, knowing full well that those requirements cannot be met.”
Haverhill Town Council and ward councillor Anthony Williams objected to the development’s ‘lack of parking provision’. Cllr Williams added that 16 spaces for 50 residents plus staff ‘doesn’t seem realistic’.
East of England Ambulance Service was also concerned about parking and that building work would impact its response times because of the restricted access road.