The scene as seen from the A17.

Plans for 81 homes in Holbeach passed after discussions over ‘poppycock of nonsense’ studies

Controversial plans for 81 new homes in Holbeach have been given the go-ahead after a debate over what developer contributions needed to be made.

The application for the site east of Chaffinch Way by Ashwood Homes has received numerous objections with concerns raised including over the access to the homes and lack of facilities in the town amid increasing housing numbers.

But the land had already been included as listed for housing development in the South and East Lincolnshire Local Plan.

That plan also says at least 25 per cent of dwellings in applications should be affordable homes, though an independent viability study commissioned by Ashwood Homes argued that it should not provide any of those nor any of the contributions asked for by the NHS or Lincolnshire County Council on the basis the development wouldn’t make enough profit.

The council’s own commissioned independent study disagreed though saying it should provide some while giving councillors options on the percentage of requested contributions offset by the number of homes designed to help those get on the property ladder.

They voted that the full asked for contributions of £404,337 towards education and £54,460 to the NHS were provided but that means just nine of the homes will be affordable (11 per cent).

Coun Chris Brewis said: “We’re stuck with these viability tests.

“I think very often we have these applications and put affordable housing conditions on them, knowing perfectly well they’ll try to wriggle out of them.

“I know we have very little choice I think a number of us do resent the way builders wriggle out of these.

“You want to say if you can’t afford it, offer the land to someone who can.

“We get done again and again and we have no way of stopping this absolute poppycock of nonsense affordability reports.”

Planning chair coun James Avery responded: “I can’t disagree with it, but developers are not charities and they are accepting a level of risk of which they would expect a reward.”

“When I came on planning 14 or 15 years ago I don’t think the viability card was every played by a developer and now it’s unusual for it not to be played, but I think that’s more symptomatic of the times we live in.”

Frustrations were also expressed by councillors that national planning rules meant it was felt other aspects of the application wouldn’t stand up at an appeal if the application was refused.

Coun Rob Gibson: “We say we don’t like private drives and all but one of them are.

“We don’t like bin collection points; there’s lots of them.

“And we’re being dictated to about with what we accept about affordable housing.”

Coun Roger Gambba-Jones said: “I’m not saying it’s a good application. The officers summed it up by saying, here’s some properties, you can see anywhere in South Holland. What Ashwood are doing is setting the standard for South Holland.

“They’ve designed South Holland almost, I’m sorry to say. It really makes me sad to see the styles we’re blessed with, blessed being the opposite of what I mean.

“It is what it is. It’s what we have to accept and the officers have done their best based on the guidance.”

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