UDC Planning Committee: R4U Councillors step up scrutiny

When the planning application at Hartford End Brewery came to planning committee it was recommended for approval by officers and supported by all members except the 3 R4U members who were concerned that there was no affordable housing whatsoever in the recommendation. A consultant’s report on affordable housing had been posted to the planning portal 12 hours before meeting and we protested that this was not enough time for members to digest the report.

On examination of the report we were concerned that certain elements of the cost base had been duplicated and in the committee we pushed for a deferral of approval until we could analyse the report. Permission was granted subject to 7 days approval of the report by members. I subsequently queried the report and the case was brought back to the next meeting. The consultant submitted a report which said that it had made the error in its first report and in its second report still maintained that there was no scope for affordable housing. I was obviously concerned that the we were not getting appropriate advice and on consideration in committee asked for a further consultant to review the situation with officers prior to permission being granted. This was subsequently carried out and the developer agreed to pay £222,000 for affordable housing under a S106 agreement.