Rumpus over homes plan

RESIDENTS at Newport in Barnstaple are furious after it emerged the new development on the St Joseph s Nursing Home site is to become an affordable housing estate. After a long planning process permission was granted in February 2009 for 23 houses and 13

RESIDENTS at Newport in Barnstaple are furious after it emerged the new development on the St Joseph's Nursing Home site is to become an affordable housing estate.

After a long planning process permission was granted in February 2009 for 23 houses and 13 flats with a third as affordable housing, but now Sanctuary Housing has announced all 36 will become affordable.

The scheme, as per the original planning application, includes two, three and even four-bedroomed "luxury" properties. The developer, Spiral Developments, is part of the Sanctuary Group and recently received Government grant funding to pay for the entire scheme.

The executive of North Devon Council recently approved an affordable housing delivery plan which included the St Joseph's site and proposed 27 properties be rented and the rest shared ownership.

Residents say they are angry and "let down" by the council following what they say has been a complete lack of consultation over the sudden change - and they fear the potential for an increase in crime or anti-social behaviour if the development is given over to "social housing."

A residents' meeting has been arranged for tomorrow (Thursday) at the Park Hotel in Barnstaple at 6.30pm, with local councillors, North Devon MP Nick Harvey, a representative from Sanctuary and the NDC chief executive invited to attend.

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Organiser Tony Allen, who lives near the proposed development off Landkey Road, said: "We want an explanation as to how they can suddenly turn around and change it to 36 affordable homes. It seems this is being manipulated so someone at the council with affordable housing figures can achieve their target."

In a leaflet to Newport residents, district councillors Mike Harrison and John Mathews said: "The council is powerless to stop this development as a 106 agreement (legal contract) only stipulates a minimum of affordable properties and the council is not allowed to put a maximum number. The developer cannot change the layout... and has to abide by the agreement, which details footpaths, etc."

Mike Santon, head of development for the South at Sanctuary, said: "The planning policy requires a minimum of 12 affordable homes to be provided. However, the council identified significant need for a greater number of affordable homes in the Barnstaple area."

"Working with the council we have secured planning permission for 36 high quality sustainable homes, with grant funding from The Homes and Communities Agency, 27 of which will be for rent and nine for shared ownership for people who cannot afford to buy a home on the open market. These are exciting proposals for Barnstaple.

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