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Downturn forces developer to rethink

PUBLISHED: 10:26 15 June 2009 | UPDATED: 08:15 01 August 2010

A HOUSING developer's plans to build 38 homes in Halesworth have stalled because the project is no longer financially viable because of the economic downturn.

A HOUSING developer's plans to build 38 homes in Halesworth have stalled because the project is no longer financially viable because of the economic downturn.

Hopkins Homes was granted planning permission to build the homes on land at the former Ridgeons premises in Quay Street last July.

The site has since been cleared and decontamination work has taken place but no construction has begun.

The developer now says the

scheme is no longer financially viable in its present form and is seeking permission from Waveney District Council to reduce the number of affordable homes it will offer and to waive an open space contribution payment of £86,130

in a bid to get the project off the ground.

The scheme currently includes provision for 11 affordable homes but Hopkins Homes is proposing to offer three three-bedroom homes, which would have been available for rent, for open market housing.

In a letter to the district council Hopkins Homes development director Simon Bryan said: “It was our intention to commence with the development of this site around the middle of the year.

“However, having reviewed the financial viability of this project in the climate of a prolonged market downturn it is unfortunately unviable to do so.

“We do however remain committed to trying to deliver the development and hence some affordable housing within the shorter term and for this reason we formally submit our proposal to vary the section 106 agreement that may help facilitate the delivery of this development.”

He said Hopkins Homes would seek to mitigate the reduction in the number of affordable homes by bringing forward the remainder of the homes so they are completed before the occupation of the first open market dwelling.

“This could therefore potentially deliver the homes some two years earlier than would be required under the current permission,” he said.

The proposals have met opposition from Halesworth Town Council. Town clerk Mary Copperthwaite said in a letter to the district council: “In business you have to accept peaks and troughs. In our opinion Hopkins Homes purchased the land to stop another developer and saw the potential for the site.

“It was their commercial decision and they should live with the consequence.

“The current economic climate has affected many businesses; house building is no different to any other. This should not be used to change a good planning application into a bad one.”

The developer's application for a proposed variation of the section 106 agreement will be considered at Waveney District Council's development control committee on Wednesday.

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