Developers attempt to cut down on community commitment on town centre housing site

A DEVELOPER is hoping to bring 35 new homes to Grays under new plans that have been submitted to Thurrock Council’s planning team.

Developer Keepmoat Homes wants to build a mix of 15 flats and 20 houses off Dell Road in Grays, with properties ranging from one bedroom to four.

The site was formerly owned by Thurrock Council who sold it to Keepmoat as part of a larger deal which involved building new homes on the site of the former Treetops school.

As part of that project Keepmoat had committed to developing a site of historial interest in association with the Land Trust, but that has been much delayed.

The development of the allotments side came to light in March this year when the Thurrock Independent exclusively reported on workman arriving on the site to tear down trees and clear the site – with the council saying little about the project in the face of questions from the Thurrock Independent and local residents.

The developers’ plans for the site.

And Keepmoat appear to be going to create more controversy as just six of the planned new homes will be categorised as ‘affordable housing’, which is half of the normal requirement for a development of this size but the developer claims in planning documents that “costs of developing the site means that it cannot sustain a policy compliant quota of affordable housing”.

They go on to state that they also do not meet the council’s planning standard known as ‘Lifetime Homes’.

This can include having space for ground floor shower drainage, potential for fitting hoists and potential for ground floor bed space.

Developers say the reason for not meeting the standard is because to do so would “further and significantly add to development costs and undercut affordable housing further”.

Furthermore, they highlight that the standard is “now defunct” and new national guidance states that it is the responsibility of local authorities to demonstrate a clear need for housing for people with specific needs.

The development will include 51 parking spaces, with 14 allocated to the 15 flats and 32 allocated to the 20 houses. An extra five will be provided for visitors.

Planning documents add: “The development of 35 new homes on this site which benefits from top level accessibility to local facilities and services, including public transportation links – road and rail – will boost housing supply and have little to no adverse impact in terms of environmental or social sustainability factors.

“Significant weight should be given to the benefits of regenerating this disused site, and the social benefits of securing housing, including affordable housing, within the area.”