What do you think is an appropriate level of affordable housing in any new development?
Last night's Wrecsam Council planning committee rejected an ultimatum from a housing developer in Brymbo to reduce the number of affordable homes on a 120-house estate from eight to four. The developer also demanded that its agreed contribution to a new school in Brymbo should be reduced to zero.
The developer cited lower house prices and won the backing of the free-market loving local Tory councillor. He claimed that there were plenty of affordable homes in the Brymbo and Tanyfron area and the reneging on a section 106 agreement was of little concern.
The old steelworks site will soon consist of 600 homes, with barely a handful of them affordable in any meaningful sense of the word. The developers on the site have offered some to a housing association but they turned out to be below the Welsh Housing Quality Standard and therefore unacceptable - a basic error that appears to have gone unpunished.
If the developer does not contribute to the school, the council will be left to pick up the bill. The economic downturn is affecting the council as much as any developer - why should taxpayers pay when developers have made super profits from the housing boom?
I do not remember any developer offering to pay more in section 106 contributions when house prices in Wrecsam soared by 207% between 1995 and 2005. They were happy to take the money and run.
No more - this is a new council with a very different approach to planning matters as shown by the overwhelming decision to reject the developer's ultimatum.