They shouldn’t have accepted the Mace viability report as a good enough reason to not provide any affordable housing. It felt like no one was thinking this through.
During the planning meeting, every time this subject came up, and the planning officers explained it away as they did, I boiled a little more.
Mace submitted a viability report, where they quantified that this project would leave them with no profit if they had to comply with the Vale policy that required 40% of housing to be affordable housing (essentially, social housing or shared ownership).
Vale Head of Planning and the planning officer repeatedly explained to us that they had hired an independent consultant, who verified that what Mace said was true. He told us this several times. Each time I wanted to jump out of my seat (I was in the audience, so not allowed to participate in the ‘debate’).
Not one member of committee was clever enough, or brave enough, to point out that what our independent consultant said was not the point. No one was saying Mace’s claim wasn’t true. Everyone was saying that, since it WAS true, their planning application should be refused as the whole development wasn’t economically viable. In other words, if you can’t do what’s required, well then, permission is refused.
I don’t consider it valid to say that this project is so risky and expensive that we can’t comply with the affordable housing policy. But that’s what the 8 Tories decided. And since a consultant said it was true, the planning officers went with it too.
Why was it that the Tories on the planning committee accepted this without question? In fact, why did three of them have no questions at all, and not participate in the debate? I’m on a slow burn. Furious.