Plans to redevelop Southampton housing estate approved

Outline plans to redevelop a council-owned housing estate in Southampton have been approved in line with a recommendation from planners who concluded that the scheme would boost the quality and quantity of the city's housing stock.

An artist's impression of the finished scheme
An artist's impression of the finished scheme

Southampton City Council intends to redevelop the local authority-owned blocks of Townhill Park Estate in the north-east of the city.

Under the plans, the estate would be redeveloped to make way for 665 new homes, associated parking and replacement public open space.

According to a planning report, a total of 426 existing flats would be demolished to make way for the redevelopment, which it said would result in a 56 per cent increase in the number of homes.

In a statement, Mike Harris, service director at Southampton City Council, said the proposals include the demolition of 380 council-owned, social rented properties and 46 private properties

He added that consent has been approved for 84 affordable units which he said "meets the minimum planning policy of 35 per cent of net gain".

Harris added that the council aspires to build more than the minimum planning policy requirement for affordable units, but added "at this stage, while we await the final detail of the Housing Bill passing through Parliament, it cannot commit to more".

Planning asked the council for information on the breakdown of the types of affordable units planned for the redevelopment, but the council did not provide a response to this query.

The planning report said that, as the council is unable to enter into a section 106 agreement with itself, the mitigation package and affordable housing required to make the development acceptable would be "secured as part of the contract of sale if the land is sold to a developer or prior to the commencement of development in the event that the council takes the scheme forward itself".

Members of the council’s planning and rights of way panel last night approved the plans, in line with the officer recommendation.

The officer report said the key issue for assessing the acceptability of the principle of development concerns the loss of open space. Under the proposals, 1.69 hectares of open space will be lost overall to development, it said.

But it added: "In designing the redevelopment of an existing estate it is inevitable that residential numbers, density and scale will increase as the proposals seek to maximise the land’s reuse whilst delivering a viable scheme worth implementing.

"The suggested mitigation, in combination with the wider benefits derived from housing delivery (including the provision of affordable housing), is sufficient to persuade officers that the principle of increasing residential density and losing open space is acceptable in this instance."

The report added that the scheme helps the council meet its housing requirements "without harming the character of the area, whilst providing a good mix of units to assist in achieving a ‘mixed and balanced community’ as required by the National Planning Policy Framework."

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