'Timely' delivery boosts case for 1,000-home Huntingdonshire urban extension

Plans have been approved for a 1,000-home urban extension at St Neots in Huntingdonshire, after planners concluded that the developer's pledge to start work on the scheme in a 'timely' fashion helped outweigh a non-policy compliant level of affordable homes.

Homes built as part of the first phase of the St Neots urban extension (pic: Adrian Cable via Geograph)
Homes built as part of the first phase of the St Neots urban extension (pic: Adrian Cable via Geograph)

Huntingdonshire District Council last night approved outline plans put forward by Gallagher Estates for 1,020 homes on 71.5 hectares of land north of Cambridge Road, on the eastern edge of the town.

The site is part of the St Neots eastern expansion area, put forward in a council urban design framework. The area is also identified as a strategic expansion location in the council’s recently submitted local plan.

A planning report, which recommended approval, said the scheme would "provide a significant contribution to meeting the housing need for the district".

Planners said that the developer’s offer of an affordable housing rate of 28 per cent would be below the council’s policy requirement for 40 per cent. The report said the council had commissioned a viability appraisal which found that the scheme could support "in excess" of 30 per cent affordable housing.

But it said that the applicants "maintain that viability demonstrates that the site should deliver less than the offer", which has increased from an initial 25 per cent affordable housing.

Councillors were told that the developers have stated "that they have taken a commercial view in the interests of being able to move forward with the delivery of development without further delay".

Planners concluded that, "in addition to the total quantum of affordable housing, early and timely implementation of all the phases of the development is also a consideration".

The report said that this "would help meet the existing need for affordable homes and help ensure that the council can continue to demonstrate a deliverable housing land supply for the next five years and beyond".

Planners also advised that "if this offer is declined, it is possible that a lower offer would be accepted at appeal".

They concluded that "the amount of development and proposed uses are acceptable in principle, the amount of proposed development can be satisfactorily accommodated on the site, and the development can deliver a sustainable extension to St Neots".

Last month, Huntingdonshire District Council approved a separate outline application for a 2,800-home development on a neighbouring site within the St Neots eastern expansion area.

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