CONTROVERSIAL plans to demolish a social housing estate in Shaw to make way for 80 new homes have been approved by West Berkshire Council.
Sovereign Housing Association and developer David Wilson Homes will begin work early this year to replace 56 flats and bungalows in Hutton Close with the new, modern family homes.
Concerns had been raised over the net loss of social housing on the estate, with Sovereign proposing to include only 24 affordable homes in the new development.
However, despite the plans being approved, Sovereign has said it is still in discussion with West Berkshire over the possibility of increasing the level of affordable housing included in the new scheme.
Sovereign’s strategic asset management director Roger Keeling said: “As the local housing association, we’re committed to continuing to build and provide new homes that meet the range of housing need in West Berkshire.
“Over the last two years, we’ve invested more than £33m to build around 230 new homes in the area, including homes for social rent and shared ownership at The Racecourse.
“It’s important that we build a range of quality homes, which support people whether they’re looking to rent or buy, have growing families or first-time buyers.
“We believe the new, quality homes at Hutton Close will achieve this aim and it is great West Berkshire have given us the go-ahead to regenerate the area.
“However, while we’ve secured planning permission with affordable homes making up 30 per cent of the new properties, we’re talking to the council and our development partners about whether we can increase this even further.”
Sovereign said the redevelopment was needed as the existing flats and bungalows, built in the 1960s, had become expensive for residents to heat and the costs for the housing association to maintain them were rising.
Over recent years, it had also become increasingly difficult to find new tenants when they became vacant, according to Sovereign.
In 2014, the plans caused controversy after residents, many of them elderly, were forced out of their homes by Sovereign to make way for the redevelopment.
It is understood that all former residents have now been rehoused.
Plans for the 80-home development include a mix of flats and houses made up of 56 four-, three- and two-bed homes for sale; 17 three- and two-, and one-bed homes for social rent; and seven two-bed properties for shared ownership.
Approving the plans, West Berkshire planners said the application was “to be encouraged” on economic grounds, benefiting the local demolition and construction industry initially, but also creating additional expenditure in the area through the additional 27 households.
Socially, however, planners said the matter was “more debatable” owing to the net loss of social housing.
The plans were ultimately approved by West Berkshire Council on Friday using their delegated powers.
Housing and planning portfolio holder at West Berkshire Council, Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley) said: “Hutton Close was badly in need of refurbishment.
“The new development will provide a range of much-needed new homes to buy and rent.”