Planning chiefs have backed plans to build up to 350 homes on a former golf club in Caerphilly town for a second time, despite the development only offering 7% affordable housing.
Proposals to transform the 42-acre Virginia Park site into a new neighbourhood were deferred by councillors in March to allow for further talks on providing affordable housing.
The planning committee heard that 49 homes – 14% of the development – would be offered at discount market rates but that none were designated as affordable housing, which was described as a ‘moral outrage’ at the meeting.
A district valuer has now reviewed the plans and determined that an affordable housing rate of 7.14% is viable on the site, which developers GHR Developments have agreed to provide.
A planning report recommending approval says: “It is considered that the review carried out by the district valuer is a thorough examination of the costs of developing this site having regard for its former use as a refuse tip and the associated contamination therein.
“Whilst members may be concerned that the target of 40 per cent affordable housing as set out in policy CW11 of the Local Development Plan, it should be noted that this is a target rather than a fixed requirement and it must be considered against viability.”
Councillors have also voiced concerns over ownership of the access to the site and the method for dealing with contamination.
Planning officers have confirmed all of the site is owned by the applicants, and that a report has been submitted detailing measures to address contamination issues.
‘High quality’ homes are promised in the outline planning application, along with a community centre, playing fields and children’s play areas.
Response to the scheme has been mixed though, with the six letters written in support of the application dwarfed by 249 objection letters and a petition signed by 38 people.
Virginia Park Golf Club closed in March 2017 with falling membership numbers making the venture unviable.
The clubhouse, and surrounding ponds, would be retained with the building serving as a local centre and complimented by a sports pitch.
A new road would be built from a junction off Heol Bro Wen along with several footpaths and cycle paths at Sir Stafford Close, Hazel Grove, Meadowland Close and Caerbragdy.
GHR say the site will carry ‘significant’ benefits to Caerphilly with its links to the town centre and the nearby leisure centre and rugby club, as well as offering ‘distinctive’ views of Caerphilly Castle.
The headline of an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that plans had been approved, rather than recommended for approval.