Developer bids to remove affordable homes from Berwick housing plan

Housing developer Lindisfarne Homes bids to have affordable housing plans cut from housing site in Berwick

The Governor's House on Palace Green, Berwick
The Governor's House on Palace Green, Berwick

A Developer's bid to remove affordable housing from plans for an historic site in a border town is facing opposition.

Lindisfarne Homes is asking Northumberland County Council to be spared having to provide low cost homes at its Governor’s Garden site at Berwick.

The company got permission to develop housing on the site in 2008 but says it has been unable to do so due to the economic climate and claims its scheme can only proceed without the affordable element. However, councillors at Berwick are objecting to the proposal, claiming there is a shortage of such properties in the town.

At a meeting tonight, county councillors are being advised to allow the developer to put affordable provision in abeyance for three years. The garden surrounds Governor’s House a grade two listed building on Palace Street East, within the town’s conservation area, dating back to 1719 which once housed a military governor and is linked to the town’s barracks and ramparts. Lindisfarne Homes, based at Belford, was given permission to develop 21 homes in its garden by the now defunct Berwick Borough Council, and another 47 on a former garage site. Twelve affordable homes were to be provided on the latter, to cover both sites. That was despite a total of 32 letters of objection from 19 residents and groups, including Berwick Civic Society, who were opposed to development of the site given its history.

The society asked the now defunct Government Office for the North East to call in the application for a public inquiry, a request which was refused. In 2011, the company was given permission by the county council to half the affordable element and put those six properties on the Governor’s Garden site instead. The company has now asked to be allowed to provide no affordable homes (AH) with council papers saying “the provision of AH within the scheme in the current economic climate renders the development unviable.”

Berwick Town Council is objecting to the request while local county councillor Coun Gavin Jones, also a town councillor, is said to have “raised concerns regarding the continued need for AH within the area.”

A town council spokesman said: “In view of the local shortage of affordable housing, members of Berwick Town Council’s planning committee objected to the proposed removal of the affordable housing element.”

The planning committee is being recommended to allow the AH provision to be placed in abeyance for three years. Lindisfarne Homes’ didn’t want to comment.

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