A Lavant development for homes and some business space has been unanimously refused due to a lack of any affordable housing.
Oakford Homes is seeking permission to demolish the existing commercial buildings at the Eastmead Industrial Estate in Midhurst Road.
In their place 58 new homes would be built alongside a village green and some business units.
But the planning application, backed by a viability report, proposed no affordable housing.
The South Downs National Park Authority’s target is 50 per cent and members of planning committee unanimously refused permission today (Thursday February 13).
An independent assessment of the viability report requested by the national park suggested a policy compliant scheme of 50 per cent affordable housing could be achieved.
The developer had asked the planning committee to defer a decision for a month to allow for more negotiation.
Nova Planning’s Patrick Barry, acting as agent for the scheme, described how 18 months of work had gone into getting proposals to this stage. But he explained they had only submitted their own viability report in October and were only sent the independent assessment a fortnight before the meeting.
He requested a deferral so ‘meaningful dialogue’ could take place.
But officers described how the two sides were at ‘polar opposites’ and the developer seemed to be treating affordable housing as a possible ‘bolt-on’ rather than an essential requirement of any scheme within the national park.
There was some debate around whether enough business space was included within the scheme.
Officers replied that during the neighbourhood plan’s formation, which allocated the site for a mixed use development, there were differing views about how much business space should be included.
Alun Alesbury, chairman of the planning committee, asked: “Is it reasonable to hope that we can expect more than this very small group of units in the south west corner of employment use as well as a significant element of affordable housing or would that just be an unrealistic hope?”
Officers felt there was a ‘reasonable amount’ of business space had been included, but they would need to see affordable housing provided to recommend approval.
Barbara Holyome said: “It just does not stack up with what we want and it does not stack up with the neighbourhood development plan. As far as I’m concerned it’s just not acceptable at all.”
Several speakers voiced the need for more parking spaces as well as business units. Officers said both points could be raised in future negotiations if and when the developer comes back with revised plans.