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Developer’s estate near Canterbury knocked back over lack of affordable homes

A developer’s plans to build 23 homes in a village have been knocked back following concerns over the lack of affordable housing.

Quinn Estates hoped to roll out its latest scheme in Rough Common, near Canterbury, but planning chiefs said it “does nothing for the district.”

An artist's impression of how the street scene would have looked. Picture: Quinn Estates.
An artist's impression of how the street scene would have looked. Picture: Quinn Estates.

Despite land behind Rough Common Road being earmarked for 28 houses, the fly in the ointment came when Quinn revealed its blueprints included no lower-cost homes.

Canterbury City Council’s policy is 30 percent of homes within new developments should be affordable.

Planning chiefs recently went against officers’ recommendations and deferred the scheme, with one councillor stressing he could not “stomach no affordable housing on the site”.

Major local developers Quinn Estates first put forward a proposal for 34 homes, including seven self-build plots, on land off Rough Common Road, in Rough Common near Canterbury, in 2019.

The plans were refused in 2020, and the developers lost an appeal against Canterbury City Council’s (CCC) decision with the government Planning Inspectorate in 2021.

In 2022 they resubmitted the plans, instead asking for 23 homes, which attracted 29 objections to the local authority’s planning department.

The plans were heard at a planning meeting in July, where they were deferred and the developer asked to look again at affordable housing - as they were providing none.

At a planning committee meeting on 19 September, councillors met again to discuss the plans, which officers recommended they back.

A planning officer told members that, due to the increased costs of building, securing loans, the developer’s £385,000 Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), and the costs of mitigating nutrient neutrality problems, there was still no chance of any affordable housing being included.

CCC’s policy is that 30% of homes on new developments should be affordable.

Quinn Estate's proposals for 23 homes at Rough Common have been sent back to the drawing board
Quinn Estate's proposals for 23 homes at Rough Common have been sent back to the drawing board

Ben Geering, head of planning for Quinn Estates, told members the development would provide “high quality, energy efficient homes that will be an asset to Rough Common and the district.”

“The costs of achieving nutrient neutrality are really significant, and when combined with CIL and the reduction in housing numbers on the site from 28 to 23 it has been demonstrated through robustly tested independently reviewed financial expert consultant work that the scheme can't deliver affordable housing on site.”

The site, just behind 51 Rough Common Road, is earmarked for 28 homes in the council’s local plan.

Mr Geering also said that one of their other developments in Sellindge recently received a rank A energy efficiency rating.

“We think that we’re the first SME developer to bring forward a site with that level of energy efficiency which has air source heat pumps, EV charging for every property, solar panels on the roof and a huge amount of biodiversity net gain as well.”

However, councillors were not enthused by the plans’ eco-credentials.

“I am still concerned about the lack of affordability, and I understand the reasons being given,” said Cllr Ian Stockley (Con).

“This development, while it may be great for the landowner and the developers and possibly for the people moving in, it does nothing for the district,” he said.

Cllr Keith Bothwell (Green) told members he approved of the environmental measures, but “this development still does not meet the standards required such that we are required to meet net zero in time.

“Our futures and more importantly the futures of our children and grandchildren depend on us reaching zero carbon as fast as possible, unless we act now to achieve that zero carbon future we will never get there,” he added.

“I don’t think it’s something I can stomach to be honest, no affordable housing on the site,” chimed in Cllr Harry McKenzie (Lab).

Cllr Roben Franklin concurred, saying: “Right now we are in a housing crisis with a lot of young people for two generations now really struggling to get onto the housing market.

“What I'm concerned about here is that as a council we’re sending a message that as long as you have special circumstances you don’t have to get to that 30%, and I think right now with this housing crisis going on we need to be really firm on that 30%.”

The planning committee voted with 12 in favour, none against, and one abstention to defer the application, instructing officers to explore whether the southern portion of the site could be used as public open space.

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