Has Fenland Council lost the plot?

A LOCAL councillor is warning Fenland could grind to a development standstill if proposals to charge small developers towards the cost of affordable homes come into force.

Steve Count believes there is a serious flaw in the Fenland Core Development strategy plans for this area which are currently out for consultation and is asking whether the council has lost the plot when it comes to encouraging small developers.

“As a town and county councillor I am responding to your consultation in the normal manner. However, there is one point I felt had to immediately be brought to your and the public’s attention.”

He highlighted ‘Policy CS3 – Meeting Housing Need’ which is suggesting putting a charge on all housing development sites - whether as new-build or conversion.

Mr Count is particularly concerned that the council is proposing to ask developers building up to nine homes for a financial contribution of up to 20 per cent towards affordable housing.

He said: “I can see that the provision of affordable housing is a noble aspiration however, this is unrealistic. The economies of scale do not kick in at this level and this will kill off any small developments and bankrupt the small builder. “Fenland is supposedly open for business however, this measure ensures the reverse. You will not find a developer in Fenland, who will agree that this is even remotely affordable.

“This especially applies to the self builder only wishing to erect one building. Any individual who one day hopes to live the ultimate dream of building a home for their family will have their hopes dashed by this. Demanding a 20% contribution to affordable housing on just one house demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of what the cost of a self build is and I fear it could mean Fenland grinds to a development halt.”

He is urging everyone to take a look at the policy and voice their opinions.

“I am not having a pop at the council. That is not what this about, I am just worried about the impact this will have on our area.

“There is very little building going on now because of the current economic climate, but this could spell the end for all small developments and that will impact on jobs,” said Mr Count, who has set up a petition as well as writing to local MP Steve Barclay and Grant Shapps, Minister of State for Housing and Local Government.

He concluded: “Fenland has proudly built up a tradition of rewarding designs that are innovative, creative and beautiful with the design and building awards, all revolving around the self builder. If you pass this policy cancel any future events as you will have no entrants.”

Kit Owen, Fenland’s Portfolio holder for growth and housing, said: “This document is currently subject to consultation and all responses will be looked at if at all appropriate.”

To sign Mr Count’s petition visit: www.petitiononline.co.uk - and search Fenland.