Number of affordable homes at Corby's Priors Hall will reduce

Corby Council is allowing the developers of Priors Hall to reduce the number of affordable homes on the development in order to stop the house building from grinding to a halt.

Saturday, 21st December 2019, 10:30 pm
Updated Saturday, 21st December 2019, 10:30 pm
The planning agreement for Priors Hall, which was signed in 2007 and dictated how many affordable homes must be built, has now been changed.

Despite verbal protests against the move at a meeting in October, on Monday (December 16) the Labour-run council’s planning committee decided to approve the plan by developers Urban and Civic to reduce the number of affordable homes in zone one of the site.

The original planning agreement, which was signed back in 2007 with original developers Bela, was to have 80 sheltered accommodation units and 40 shared ownership homes to meet the affordable homes requirement on the site.

But Urban and Civic – who bought the site in 2017 after BeLa Partnership Ltd went bust – say the sheltered units are unsaleable and that because the number of homes to be built in zone one has dropped from the original plan of 4,360 to 3,848 the number of affordable homes should be reduced.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Its request to instead build 75 homes was approved unanimously by the councillors on the planning committee. The company had argued to officers that to build the original 120 homes would have led it to incur a cost in excess of £800,000. None of the properties will be social housing and they will not meet current space standards – due to the original approval being given in 2007.

Speaking at the meeting Urban and Civic’s agent Joanne Cave said a provider had been lined up to build the affordable homes.

She said ‘many misdemeanours had been left behind by the previous landowner’ and that the delivery of affordable housing was one of the remaining issues to sort out.

She said house building on the site would have to stop if the amended 106 planning contribution could not be agreed, as the threshold had been reached where the developer was required to build the affordable homes.

As part of the original Section 106 planning agreement Bela did pay £3m to build social housing off-site at Kingswood.

Altogether across the whole of Priors Hall 339 affordable homes will be built.

Labour councillor Judy Caine, who said at the earlier October meeting she was speechless about the move and said it was ‘against everything Corby Council stands for as a council’, was not at Monday’s meeting to vote.

This is the second time in recent months the authority, which has ambitions to grow the town to 100,000 people by 2031, has backed down to a developer’s insistence that affordable homes are unviable.

In September the council agreed that the large Corby West development only needs to have between five and eight per cent affordable homes on site. The council’s policy recommends a 20 per cent level.