Affordable housing plan is shelved in favour of £3.28million deal

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Planning news.

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Council bosses have turned down the chance for extra much-needed affordable housing in the borough - and as a result have been handed a £3.28million windfall.

Plans for 73 affordable homes within a new high rise development have been scrapped because no social housing provider was willing to take them on.

Symbio House, Hemel Hempstead.

Symbio House, Hemel Hempstead.

Among those approached was Dacorum Borough Council, who will now receive a lump sum from developer Corona Properties in lieu of them building the social housing.

Council bosses have pledged that the multi-million pound deal will be used ‘exclusively’ to provide affordable homes within Dacourm in ‘due course’.

Planning permission for a 16 storey development at Symbio House in Whiteleaf Road, Hemel Hempstead, was granted in June this year.

The scheme includes up to 208 flats, along with offices, retail and leisure space.

Of the 73 properties initially earmarked as affordable homes, 75 per cent was due to be rented at discounted rates and the remaining 25 per cent would have been sold under shared ownership.

As well as the 16 stories, plans show that there are four basement levels including, parking for 228 vehicles and a roof top garden.

But the project had stalled because, out of 10 social housing landlords approached, all were either not interested or unable to take up the offer of affordable homes or simply did not reply to the developer’s enquiry.

Among those who failed to reply was the council but its corporate director of housing and regeneration explained: “The council did not respond to the developer’s search for a social housing provider to deliver the homes on site as this is almost always done by Housing Associations.

“The developer provides a subsidy for the affordable homes and not the full amount. Housing Associations are able to borrow the funds required to deliver the costs over and above those provided by the developer, whereas the council cannot.”

The council’s development control committee agreed the funding deal at its meeting last Thursday.