Plans to demolish two homes in Crawley and replace then with a block of 20 flats have been refused by the borough council.
The applicant for the site at 42 and 44 Brighton Road, Southgate, said the development would not be viable if affordable housing had to be included, a point that did not sit well with planning officers.
The council usually seeks 40 per cent affordable housing from all new developments but the government’s National Planning Policy Framework – which sets out how applications should be dealt with – allows that to fall as low as 10 per cent.
For this development that would mean just two flats.
At a meeting of the planning committee, some felt the part-three part-four storey flats would fit in well and sympathised with the applicant.
Peter Smith (Lab, Ifield) said: “It would be a good improvement to the site, providing 20 flats for people to live in when we have a desperate need for homes in our town to accommodate our people.”
Stressing the need for affordable housing, he added that the council’s inability to agree any with the applicant meant the committee was forced to accept the recommendation of the planning officers and turn down the plans.
Kim Jaggard (Con, Maidenbower) said: “I am a bit concerned that we are turning down the chance of 20 flats just for the sake of two. I’m a bit puzzled at how we would fare at an appeal if one should go ahead.”
Tom McAleney (Lab, Langley Green & Tushmore) agreed with the officers.
He said: “The affordable housing is one of the most important things when we’re considering requests.
“The long-term implications of allowing more and more developments with no affordable housing is it’s not actually going to address the issue of lack of housing because the only people who are going to be able to afford those flats are people who can already afford housing that exists.
“A paltry ten per cent is nothing to ask for.”