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Clark blocks Ipswich affordable homes scheme over ‘inclusivity’ issues

Published: Thursday, 16th June 2016

Communities Secretary refuses Ravenswood development on the basis that it conflicts with national policy “to create inclusive and mixed communities”…

Ipswich Borough Council has reacted with a mix of anger and bewilderment after Communities Secretary Greg Clark went against the recommendation of a planning inspector and blocked the council’s plan for some 94 affordable flats and houses.

The council scheme was proposed for a 2.2-hectare site, part of the Ravenswood development, a new community which is being created as a result of the re-development of the former Ipswich Airport.

The scheme was the subject of a call-in inquiry. The inspector who held the hearing said the proposals should be approved. Clark disagreed.

He acknowledged that the development would provide a high quality built environment in a very accessible location and would “make a significant contribution to affordable housing and assist in the delivery of a wide choice of high quality homes”.

But he went on to insist that the proposed single cluster of 94 affordable units would conflict with a local planning policy designed to achieve housing development in which the affordable units “are truly integrated into the market housing”.

The SoS added that the proposals were also in conflict with national policy “to create inclusive and mixed communities”.

Council leader David Ellesmere said the local authority would now consider the government’s determination before deciding its next steps.  

“This is an astonishing decision. After a public inquiry in September 2015, the planning inspector recommended approval, but after sitting on the report for more than six months, the Secretary of State has now blocked the application on the grounds that the development should contain more homes for sale.

“I cannot think of another case in the country where a planning application has been turned down because the housing wasn’t expensive enough. The length of time it has taken the government to take this decision is likely to cost the council millions of pounds in lost rent, grants and increased construction costs.”

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View the called in decision

Roger Milne