A council developing its own plot of land will not build the normal amount of affordable homes required because the site is sloping and will have drainage issues.
South Norfolk Council owns land next to its Long Stratton offices, off Swan Lane, as well as the former care home, Cygnet House, which occupies the same plot.
The council has given itself outline planning permission, as it is also the planning authority, to develop the site for 50 homes and up to 800 square metres of office space.
Normally a development of 50 homes would be enough to trigger a requirement of 33 per cent affordable homes, as dictated by planning policy.
Instead, the council had applied for just five affordable homes, or ten per cent.
Under planning guidelines, 17 homes could have been expected on the site.
At a planning meeting held on Wednesday the council said this was justified because the costs to develop the site were exceptional, due to it being on a slope, and predicted issues surrounding drainage.
Councillor Tim East, who sat on the planning committee, challenged the council to come up with specific reasons for a reduction in affordable homes.
Planning officer Helen Mellors pointed to a full financial case for a reduction in affordable homes, submitted to the independent District Valuation Office, which was approved.
Cllr East said: “To develop a site with uneven topography would not be sustainable with 33 per cent affordable homes, but at least we are getting some affordable homes.”
Cllr East also suspected there would be a possible contaminated land issue.
Councillors on the committee unanimously voted through the plans.
The plans are in outline only, so the exact form and design of the site, known as reserved matters, will be the subject of another planning application.
Access is set to be from a link road connecting the council offices with Swan Lane.
Although Long Stratton is set to gain 1,800 extra homes as part of the new planning blueprint for South Norfolk, these potential homes would be in addition to that.
Some members of the committee were concerned that a pelican or zebra crossing should be installed to connect the new development with facilities on the other side of the road, such as the schools and the doctors’ surgery.
But Norfolk County Council’s highways department said in a statement that it was not required for the scale of development. The had no objections to the scheme relating to traffic.
Iain Hill, of building consultancy Ingleton Wood, acting as agent for the scheme, said that the offices would offer flexible accommodation to attract a broad range of businesses.
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