Marketfield Way: why no affordable housing?

At the Reigate & Banstead Borough Council Executive meeting last Thursday, the Conservatives announced the next phase of plans to develop on Marketfield Way car park in Redhill.

The latest proposals added a few extra storeys to the plans previously unveiled – it will now be up to ten storeys – and included agreement that the Council should be allowed to use Compulsory Purchase powers to buy parts of the site if needed.

The plans are for 153 flats, a privately-owned cinema (how will this affect the Harlequin’s viability?) and ten shops and restaurants.

There will be 48 parking spaces – as it’s in the town centre, the Council can allow fewer parking spaces per flat than in other areas.

The Council confirmed that it does intend to require a high standard of energy efficiency for the buildings. But they did not confirm that any of the retail units would be for locally-owned or independent stores.

The low car dependency, together with a highly energy efficient building, could make this a sustainable development.

But to be truly sustainable, some of the homes need to be affordable, and for sale or rent to local residents, not just for sale to institutional investors.

I was therefore shocked to find that no affordable housing is included in this stage of the scheme.

When I asked about this, the Council confirmed that not only would no new affordable homes be provided, but no money would be provided for affordable homes elsewhere.

The Borough Local Plan, agreed last year, states quite clearly, “The Council will negotiate to achieve affordable housing taking account of the mix of affordable units proposed and the overall viability of the proposed development at the time the application is made… New residential developments comprising 15 or more net dwellings should provide 30% of housing as affordable.”

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s Conservative administration should set an example to developers and comply with its own local plan.

We should not do as developers do and secure up to 20% profit for ourselves before providing any affordable housing. We should put local people before council profits – especially as the Council claims in its own report that the plans are “economically viable”.

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