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Pub developer allowed to duck 'affordable housing' condition

Parish council objected: 'The need for affordable housing in the area is such that it should be provided on site'

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886628

Malt Shovel to be converted to flats

THE developer of a flats complex at the former Malt Shovel pub in  Lambourn has been allowed to buy his way out of providing affordable housing.

When planning chiefs gave permission in July last year to convert the Grade II-listed building into homes, they made an ‘affordable housing’ proviso.

The applicant, owner Roger McCabe, had claimed the business was no longer viable and instead wanted to convert the property into six flats with a combined total of nine bedrooms.

The proposals triggered protests from residents, but some took comfort from a condition attached to the permission.

The legal agreement was for one of the units to be provided as an affordable, social rent unit.

Now, however, Mr McCabe has successfully applied to have the condition removed.

Instead, he was allowed to buy his way out of the agreement by paying the council an undisclosed cash sum.

West Berkshire Council’s core strategy requires on-site provision of affordable housing.

As the development would provide between five and nine units,  20 per cent affordable housing provision is required, which equates to one flat.

Lambourn Parish Council had objected to allowing Mr McCabe to avoid that, stating: “The need for affordable housing in the area is such that it should be provided on site.”

A planning officer’s report on the request conceded there had been no change to the policy and added: “The requirement for the development to contribute to affordable housing and the local need for affordable housing remain and, as such, a legal agreement to secure an obligation continues to serve a useful purpose.”

Nevertheless, the report added: “Various options for the unit being provided on site were investigated but, due to the relatively remote location of the site and [the fact that] it is a single unit, it has not been possible to find a registered provider to take on one of the units.

“Allowance is made within the policy and guidance to allow for a commuted sum to be paid in lieu of providing a unit of social housing on site.

“A sum has been agreed by the council’s housing team.”

A commuted sum, or payment in lieu, is an amount of money, paid by a developer to the council, where the size or scale of a development triggers a requirement for affordable housing, but it is not possible to achieve appropriate affordable housing on site.

Around 500 years ago, The Malt Shovel was a bakery and it had been a public house for the past 300 years.

The pub had been traditionally popular with the local horseracing community, but documentation was provided to support the contention that the business had become unviable.

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