Anger at loss of Faygate homes

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COUNCILLORS voiced their anger at the loss of eight on-site affordable homes at a planned retirement community in Faygate last week.

The eight homes were to be built as part of the retirement village agreement, which was granted planning permission on appeal, but now six additional retirement homes will take their place, as no bids qualified during the tender process.

Liz Kitchen (Con, Rusper and Colgate), chairman of the Development Control (North) Committee, expressed her disappointment that they received a commuted sum of £700,000 in place of much-needed affordable houses.

“It hurts me too,” she said after other councillors made their concern known.

Godfrey Newman (LDem, Forest), said: “This is purely an issue about money.”

However the planning officer quashed any idea of impropriety in the bidding process, saying that it had been fully examined by their auditing officer.

Ten affordable housing providers were approached, with Saxon Weald, Southern, Moat and Raglan submitting offers.

Leonard Crosbie (LDem, Trafalgar), vice chairman of the council, said he could not believe what he was reading in the meeting’s agenda, expressing concern at another failure to deliver affordable homes.

He addded: “The document makes reference to ring fencing £700,000 in the Faygate area. If that is feasible then it should be so.”

While Colgate Parish Council had no objections, it requested that the commuted sum was ring fenced for affordable housing within the parish, and noted its disapproval that HDC did not act on concerns it raised in 2010.