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Labour Cllr, Bill Gardner, calls Tories "soft touch for developers" after only 28 affordable homes built in Dover district

By Victoria Chessum

The district council’s Labour group has called the ruling Conservatives a “soft touch” for developers after a report revealed only 28 affordable homes were built in the area last year.

This number is said to be desperately short of the council’s target. Out of the 228 homes built, only 28 were affordable homes.

This revelation came from the council’s State of the District report, which was debated in a full council meeting.

Cllr Bill Gardner said the Tories are a "soft touch" for developers

It is said that the district council has continually failed to reach its home building targets in the last five years, failing to build fewer than 300 homes per year, every year, since 2008/9.

Cllr Bill Gardner, Labour’s spokesman on the planning committee said: “We’ve only built 228 homes in the last year, which is bad, but only 12% of those were affordable homes, which is worse.

“We’ve granted permission for more than 1,000 houses but builders are land banking and sometimes coming back to the planning committee to build projects with only 10% affordable homes, instead of the 30% they were given permission for.

“We should be laying out the agreement between ourselves and the developer in stone at the base of the development." - Cllr Gardner

“We should be laying out the agreement between ourselves and the developer in stone at the base of the development, so no one is under any illusion what we gave permission for.

“Mr Eric Pickles has been accusing planning committees of not giving builders enough permission, but this is total rubbish.

“It is the developers asking for more and more permissions but not to build, just to add value to the bottom line of their balance sheet.

Cllr Gardner warned: “The council is sending out the wrong signal to developers that we are a soft touch over affordable homes.

“By failing to put in proper conditions, and ensuring that homes are built within a certain period of time, we are saying to developers, ‘have the land now while it’s cheap, but build on it when it’s good for you.’

Cllr Sue Chandler insists the council is dedicated to regeneration

“They should be building now, when they get the permission and when people need the homes to live in.”

Cllr Sue Chandler, the portfolio holder for housing, said: “The council is totally committed to regeneration in the district.

“In order to achieve that we will take all factors into consideration including an achievable, affordable housing contribution to make regeneration happen.”

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