Hazel Thorpe suggests I shouldn’t criticise the planning committee for agreeing to allow Rocco Homes to develop the Bunce’s site in Chapel Road with the contribution to affordable homes reduced from the £769,000 it should have been, to a paltry £25,000.
I should have been there when the decision was taken, she says. Perhaps it’s best I was in the privacy of my own home listening to a recording of the meeting.
Particularly when the vote was taken and every member of the committee – including her – voted in favour.
What’s the point of making a token objection to Rocco Homes protecting their profits at the expense of the hard-pressed families in Worthing desperate for affordable homes – and then voting in favour of their development going ahead?
Rocco Homes bought the site from Bunce’s knowing that the Worthing Local Plan would require them to provide 30 per cent of the development as affordable homes or the financial equivalent for providing affordable homes elsewhere.
But they also knew they could get consultants to write a viability assessment report that would enable them to dodge their responsibilities and so boost their profits.
And her answer to this outrage? A report to be produced some time in the future, written by another council committee.
The problem is here and now and it’s one of secrecy.
Neither those on the planning committee nor members of the public can see the figures to support the claims of developers that they can’t afford to make their rightful contribution. And that needs to be challenged.
That’s why I’ve put in a request under the Environment Information Regulations (similar in purpose to a Freedom of Information request) for the viability report for the Bunce’s site development to be published and for other related information to be made public so that we can see for ourselves how Rocco Homes managed to walk away from their responsibilities.
Harrow Road, Worthing
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