Plans to redevelop the old Place Court Retirement Home and the neighbouring magistrates’ court in Haverhill have been approved on appeal.
The applicants behind the two housing schemes proposed for the Camps Road sites had each appealed to the Planning Inspectorate after the failure – or non-determination – by St Edmundsbury Borough Council earlier this year on both developments.
Jonathan Price, the inspector, heard an appeal on October 3 by Emlor Homes, which wanted outline planning permission to knock down the old court building, day centre and social services offices and build 17 dwellings.
The following day, Mr Price heard an appeal by Churchill Retirement Living against St Edmundsbury Council in connection to its full planning application to demolish Place Court and construct 50 one and two-bedroom sheltered retirement apartments, with communal facilities, landscaping and access.
The main issue with the Place Court scheme, said Mr Price, was ‘whether the proposed development would make adequate provision for affordable housing,’ which is normally set at 30 per cent for a development of its size.
Having weighed up all the evidence presented at the appeal, including the impact of vacant building credit (VBC), a national policy providing an incentive for brownfield development on sites with vacant buildings by lowering the usual required levels of affordable housing, Mr Price ruled in favour of Churchill Retirement Living, but said it should make an affordable housing contribution of £171,164.
Mr Price also upheld Emlor’s appeal, having considered three main issues, one of which was whether or not its proposal included enough affordable housing - normally set at 30 per cent for a scheme of its size.
His decision was also influenced by the VBC for the site, a policy which in his judgement allowed Emlor to provide just two affordable properties – equal to 12 per cent.