King’s Lynn retirement homes plan rejected over ‘derisory’ affordable housing cash offer

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A developer’s offer to pay £40,000 towards affordable housing as part of planning consent for a retirement homes scheme in Lynn has been dismissed as “derisory.”

The offer was put before West Norfolk Council’s planning committee yesterday, as it re-considered the proposal for the former King’s Lynn Silos site on the South Quay.

But members deemed the offer to be too low and unanimously refused the application, submitted by McCarthy and Stone.

The committee originally voted to approve plans for 37 retirement flats on the land in July, subject to the completion of legal agreements relating to financial contributions from the developer towards the provision of affordable housing in the borough.

But the scheme was brought back to members for a third time after the developer offered the £40,000 payment.

Last month, members had voted to give the company one month to reach an agreement or have their application refused.

Lisa Matthewson, speaking for McCarthy and Stone. told the committee its offer was higher than the amount it was paying for a similar development in Hunstanton, on which it won an appeal against the borough council earlier this year.

She said all other aspects of the proposal had been deemed to be acceptable and “urged” the committee to accept the offer.

Officials also warned that the decision on the Hunstanton scheme was one of a consistent run of decisions on issues of this kind.

But objector Heather Bolt said the offer was a “pittance” and described a further £2,000 contribution to library provision as “meaningless”.

Ward councillor Lesley Bambridge also reminded members of the hundreds of elderly people who are currently on the council’s housing waiting list.

She said the total number of households waiting for a property had also increased slightly in the last month to 2,465. And she asked: “When there is such a shortage of affordable housing and little funding other than this, how are we going to bridge the gap?”

Committee member David Collis said the offer of affordable housing money was “totally inadequate”. He said he had initially read the figure as £400,000 before realising his error.

His colleague Jim Moriarty thanked McCarthy and Stone for their “opening offer” in the negotiations.