Homes refused on business park

A developer has said its plans for part of a business park intended to create 2,500 jobs are “not financially viable” after plans to build homes on part of the site were refused.

Ashley King Developments, which trades as Ashwood Homes, already has outline planning permission for commercial properties for the Lincolnshire Gateway south of Spalding, but has now described part of the project as “not financially viable”.

A bid to build 43 homes south of Fen End Lane alongside commercial buildings, which the developer said was to offset losses, was refused by South Holland District Council’s Planning Committee last week.

Councillors agreed with planning officer Polly Harris-Gorf’s conclusion that the homes were “not in appropriate location for the provision of new dwellings being located in open countryside and not easily accessible from Spalding”.

Speaking on behalf of Ashley King Developments at the meeting, Tim Waller said: “Ashwood Homes are keen to deliver the business park but they’ve struggled to open up the wider site due to the upfront infrastructure costs,” he said. “A development would not be financially viable on any normal commercial basis.

“Housing is proposed to mitigate what would otherwise be substantial losses and Ashwood Homes had waived their profits on the basis it would realise their goal of providing the first service plots on the northern part of the gateway site.”

There were 13 members of the public who objected to the proposals.

Fen End Lane resident Graham Brown told the committee of local residents’ concerns over the lack of bungalows planned, the effect on the existing bridleway and traffic.

“This application goes against so many national and local planning policies designed to build sustainable and viable residential developments,” he said.

The committee heard that Ashwood Homes had offered to fund the fixing a Cowbit Road footpath that’s been unusable since 2015 if the application was passed.

However Coun Christine Lawton argued: “With 43 houses, none of which are affordable and no contributions for the NHS and education, I’m not sure a footpath is adequate compensation, although I do realise the quid pro quo might be employment opportunities.”

Speaking before councillors voted to refuse the application, Coun Brian Alcock said: “We were put under pressure to approve the site for a variety of reasons, all of which made commercial sense.

“We were going to have Gateway to Spalding a gateway to Lincolnshire and now we find out that it’s uneconomic, which I find surprising and disappointing.”

The site is listed as being for commercial use in the South Lincolnshire Local Plan which was only passed a few months ago.

Planning Committee chair Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, said of building homes on the land before the plan was passed: ” I’m pretty convinced we would have resisted it and not been persuaded to put it here had it come forward in any circumstances.”

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