Council’s development management committee to consider further planning application by Churchill Retirement Living for 40 sheltered apartments at Green Close/Drakes Avenue, Sidmouth

A third planning application submitted by Churchill Retirement Living for the construction of retirement apartments on land at Green Close/Drakes Avenue in Sidmouth will be debated and determined by East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee at its next meeting on 4 December. The meeting starts at 10am in the Council Chamber at Knowle in Sidmouth.

The planning application proposes 40 sheltered apartments with 24 car parking spaces and follows two previous planning applications for 36 and 39 apartments respectively.

Both previous applications were refused on the basis that they failed to provide a sufficient contribution towards affordable housing. Initially, for the first application, a financial contribution of only £40,000 was offered towards affordable housing, on the basis that it was not viable for the scheme to pay more than that. The developer also refused to share any uplift in their profit from the site to address concerns that they may ultimately make more than was being estimated. That application was refused and that decision was upheld on appeal. A second application proposed a financial contribution of £654,870, but this was still less than was required and the developer again refused to share any uplift in profits and so this was also refused and is currently the subject of an appeal.

Following a change in Central Government Policy, through the publication of the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in July 2018, Churchill Retirement Living has submitted a third  application offering a financial contribution of £677,434.

Due to a change of planning policy within the NPPF, planning officers are advising members that they can no longer require an applicant to enter into a legal agreement to secure a further contribution on this site. This is because the new NPPF advises that in order to support the re-use of brownfield land, local authorities should reduce any affordable housing contribution by an amount proportionate to the floor space of the existing building.

Planning officers are advising that this change to the NPPF means that the proposal now complies with current planning policy and as such there is no longer a justification for any further contribution towards affordable housing and therefore no need for any further legal agreement. In effect Churchill Retirement Living is now proposing to pay the full affordable housing contribution.

As the latest application is considered to be acceptable in all other regards, the application is recommended for approval subject to a number of conditions  and is subject to a legal agreement to secure payment of a financial contribution of £677,434 to the council towards the provision of affordable housing within the district.

For further information read the agenda on the East Devon web site:

Councillor Mike Howe, Chairman of East Devon’s Development Management Committee, said:

This development has a long and protracted history with this now being the 3rd application from Churchill Retirement Living, with a 2nd appeal also running. In the meantime, the site is now vacant and not providing the care homes places that are needed. Although now supported by officers the application has raised a number of concerns for the town council and ten residents remain opposed to the scheme. I look forward to a healthy debate of the issues at the committee meeting.