A DEVELOPER has failed in its bid to build fewer affordable homes at a former council office site in Swansea, despite paying less for the land in the first place.
Enzo’s Homes bought the land at Penllergare Valley Woods from Swansea Council in a deal believed to be around £1 million. The company then signed a legal agreement with the council to provide 16 affordable houses at the new estate, which is nearing completion.
But last month Enzo’s Homes applied to the council to modify this agreement and provide 12 affordable houses instead.
Its application was unanimously rejected by the authority’s planning committee at a meeting on July 2.
A planning officer told committee members that the price of the land was dropped in order to help facilitate the 16 affordable homes, but no sums were given. Referring to the application to reduce the number of affordable homes, he said: “Your officers consider that the reduction is not justified.”
Enzo’s Homes had originally proposed building eight affordable houses, while the planning authority wanted 24.
An independent appraisal was carried out, and the 16 figure was agreed by both parties.
In its latest application, Enzo’s Homes said 12 affordable homes “would be in line with the policies” of a new development plan for Swansea, which was adopted after it was given planning permission for the estate.
Addressing the planning committee, Penllergaer councillor Wendy Fitzgerald said she felt the 80-home estate had been a “disaster” for the historic park and garden in which it is located “in more ways then one”.
She also said Enzo’s Homes had not been required to make a primary school contribution because of the financial viability issues, although the developer was obliged to make a £253,568 secondary school contribution and a £65,000 habitat payment.
Cllr Fitzgerald added: “I think there can be no option other than to refuse this request.”
Commitee member, Cllr Peter Black, said he was “disturbed” by the planning report which said it appeared that Enzo’s Homes was in breach of its obligations because discussions with registered social landlords to manage the affordable homes had not progressed.
“I think it is important that the obligations they signed up to are fully met,” said Cllr Black.
Cllr Mike White said allowing Enzo’s Homes to cut the number of affordable houses could “open the floodgates” for other developers, while Cllr Des Thomas said he felt the developer was embarking “on a bit of a fishing exercise”.
Cllr Louise Gibbard said she was “appalled” by the apparent lack of dialogue between Enzo’s Homes and social landlords.
She added: “There is a clear need for affordable housing in the area – that’s one of the reasons we voted for it (the original planning application).”
The planning officer said discussions were taking place with Enzo’s Homes on the social landlord matter, and added: “We would look to take legal action if there is a breach of contract.”