A PLAN for 39 dwellings at Cartmel was approved at a South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) meeting, despite offering a lower number of affordable homes than when it was first proposed two years ago.

The planned development on land south of Haggs Lane, put forward by Holbeck Homes (Cartmel) Ltd, will include eight affordable dwellings, six fewer than were included in the original proposal, which was first put to members in 2017.

At 21 per cent of the total development, this means the project now falls short of SLDC’s affordable housing stipulation of 35 per cent, although the council states a lower figure will be accepted where there is “clear evidence” 35 per cent would make a scheme “unviable”.

At a meeting of SLDC’s planning committee, councillor and leader of SLDC Giles Archibald said he was “hugely concerned” about approving a development which fell below the affordable housing allocation.

“It cannot be right that the community interests are secondary to those of the landowners and developers,” he added.

“We should be clear in drawing a line in the sand on this matter.”

Cllr Susanne Long said: “We should be making sure that the people who are buying the land and want to build on it have done their work first.”

The applicant gave a number of reasons for the reduction in affordable housing provision, which are outlined in a public document produced ahead of the planning committee meeting. These included:

-The current market conditions as well as the economic uncertainty due to the delay on a Brexit decision leading to the expectation that sales rates will be negatively impacted.

-The ‘base build cost’ being higher than the local average, for reasons including the remote location of the site impacting labour and some material costs, and the cost of the natural stone and natural slate which will be used in construction of the dwellings.

-The ‘significantly above average’ lengths of service road, service trenching and drainage which are included in the site layout due to its location to the rear of an existing development on Haggs Lane.

There are also a number of ‘abnormal costs’ listed in connection with the development, including: abnormal foundations and earthworks (cut and fill) due to the topography of the site; retaining walls to accommodate necessary changes in site levels; a surface water pumping station; attenuation tanks; and decorative railings and feature stone walls.

Councillors voted in favour of granting planning consent to the development.

And, despite this, SLDC has said it is on on track to deliver its target of 1,000 affordable homes by 2025, with the total provided since January 2014 standing at 468.