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Open market homes backed

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: December 23, 2013

By Leslie Jackson

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DEVELOPERS have been given the green light to built more houses for the open market on a controversial site rather than affordable properties.

The move is aimed at helping to pay the costs of clearing a site which has been described as "highly contaminated".

An application in 2005 gave approval for 13 houses to be built on former copper works land at Black lane, Whiston,

Conditions attached to the approval included that four of the dwellings would be made available on the basis of shared equity and six would be for low cost ownership.

The remaining three would be put up for sale on the open market

The latest plan went before members of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's planning applications committee, seeking the removal of the six low cost homes to allow nine to be placed on the open market and four for shared equity.

A report to councillors said: "The applicant states the reason for applying for the variation is due to the depression of property prices in the last five years, the rise in construction costs and remediation costs, and also the loss of landfill tax exemption in March 2012.

"Consequently the applicant is contending that having regard to the costs associated with carrying out the proposed development and the likely value of the completed dwellings, the scheme is not sufficiently viable to be able to support six low cost houses."

Councillor Linda Malyon said: "This has been a very controversial application as the site is highly contaminated.

"It is also close to other dwellings.

"Members thought very hard when it first came to this committee and lots of conditions were put on it.

"The applicant should have done some research.

"We can't go with this. They would have to go very deep to get rid of the contamination.

"What message does it send out to people if we put on conditions and then later on we decide to change them."

Councillor Jason Hails said that the plan had been a thorn in the side of the planning committee for many years.

He said: "If they dig and dump the contaminated soils it will need to be treated if it has nasty chemicals in it."

Councillor Ron Locker said the contamination of the land was more serious than believed.

He said: "A lot of time has been spent on this.

"We are talking about people growing things on the land.

"The quality of life for people is most important.

"We want to know how the site will be cleared up as it worries me it does not rise its head later on."

Councillor Jim Davies said he felt the financial position was now different from when the original application was made.

Councillor John Fisher added that without the changes the site would not get developed.

The application was approved by councillors by eight votes to four.

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