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Affordable housing segregation controversy 'is Stafford's apartheid'

By Carl Jackson | Stafford | News | Published:

Controversial proposals to put dozens of extra affordable homes at a Stafford housing estate – freeing up another plot across town for private homes – have been compared to 'apartheid'.

Councillor Isabella Davies compared the relocation of affordable housing to 'apartheid'

Planning chiefs on Stafford Borough Council are set to decide whether to expand Bellway’s development at Doxey Road, from 176 properties to 196, with the affordable housing rising from around 50 to 90.

If approved it would mean the firm’s other forthcoming scheme to build 127 homes at Baswich Park - the former Staffordshire Police HQ - on Cannock Road could be dedicated completely to houses to be sold on the market.

Officers on the authority have recommended the contentious idea go ahead.

Councillor Isabella Davies who represents Doxey and Castletown compared to the situation with the social segregation which blighted South Africa for decades.

She said: "Bellway was granted planning permission to build 170 houses south of the main road in March 2015 and this included 52 affordable houses.

“Now Bellway wants to move the goalposts and build 90 affordable houses at Doxey and none at all at the police headquarters site where they want to build 127 big and expensive homes.

“My constituents don’t mind having their fair share of affordable housing and the borough council’s local plan says the average should be 30 per cent.

The former police HQ on Cannock Road, Stafford which Bellway want to dedicate solely to 127 private homes.

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“This amendment would increase the total number of homes at Bellway’s site in Doxey to 196 – a rise of over 15 per cent.

"The proportion that would be affordable housing would rise from 30 per cent to 46 per cent.

“This would be Stafford’s form of apartheid.

"We are being told we must have affordable housing in places like Doxey but not at Baswich or Weeping Cross.

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"It just has to be wrong."

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy has also warned against the move arguing it breaches council policy which if it goes ahead could make it difficult for the authority to ensure future developments contain a suitable proportion of affordable housing.

The council has also received around 60 objections to the proposal with one of the common concerns being that it will causes 'segregation' in the borough.

Doxey Parish Council has also opposed the plans claiming the move could open the floodgates to other developers trying to do the same.

A summary of their concerns said: "Doxey Parish Council would ask the planning committee and officers to consider this incredibly carefully as allowing affordable provision to transfer will set a precedent within the Borough and may lead the way for developers proposing further transfers of which the Borough Council could be powerless to stop.

"This would undermine the Stafford Local Plan and the socially inclusive communities it aims to build."

Stafford Borough Council's planning committee will make a decision on whether to amend the original application for the Doxey Road on Wednesday, September 13.

In a report for the meeting planning officers state the council's planning policy allows for the 'off-site provision' of affordable housing whilst adding the issue will be taken into consideration again when when the formal application for Baswich Park is determined.

Carl Jackson

By Carl Jackson
Reporter - @cjackson_star

Senior reporter for Staffordshire and Walsall.

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