Developers who declined to include affordable homes in their plans to build 81 new homes have seen their designs thrown out in an eleventh-hour councillor rebellion.

Shanly Homes believed they were all set to see their proposal for the new homes to go up just east of Bracknell as council officers had recommended the designs for planning permission.

EXPLAINED: Why plan for 81 homes near Ascot did not include affordable homes

But the Palm Hills estate plans were refused after councillors reacted angrily to claims affordable housing had not been included because doing so would reduce the developers' profit margins.

What’s the issue?

Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) has a policy that large housing developments should come with at least 25 per cent affordable housing.

But because an independent property consultant suggested in a report that the development would not be financially viable if affordable houses were provided, zero were included in the plans.

Bracknell News:

This is because Shanley Homes would have to fork out extra cash to make the site safe given its location next to the former landfill site on London Road, near Ascot, leaving the developers with a reduced profit margin.

Therefore, BFC could not recommend councillors refuse the plans based on the lack of cheaper homes.

At a planning meeting last week, BFC head of planning Max Baker explained: “It’s important to remember our policy is 25 per cent [affordable housing] subject to viability.”

How did councillors respond to this?

This issue prompted angry questions from members of BFC’s planning committee, all of whom were given access to the independent report before making a decision on the designs.

READ MORE: Developers will pay just £2,500 towards affordable homes despite standing to make £560,000 profit

The report, which has also now been released to the public, shows the costings and the expected profitability of the scheme in a range of different scenarios. 

But Shanly Homes will now not get to go ahead with the scheme after councillors revolted against the lack of affordable homes.

What did they say?

Councillor Michael Gbadebo led the charge with an impassioned speech to his planning committee colleagues.

Bracknell News:

He said: “We as a council agreed on a policy that was sound. There is a reason why we have 25 per cent [requirement for affordable housing on large developments].

“It is not for us to make a plan viable -- it is up to the developers to make it viable.

“It’s an insult to our residents, to the council and this planning committee how somebody can present a plan and say ‘sorry, it’s not viable because we don’t make enough profit.’

“Your profit is not my concern. My concern is decent, affordable housing for residents.

Bracknell News:

“I understand you have to make money. But it is your job to make it work. You know what the policies are.

“We have a policy. We need affordable housing. We have to make it clear to developers we are not against building.

“We are for building the right houses in the right places with infrastructure.

READ MORE: Five homes which cost less than £100,000 in Bracknell

“We have young people and key workers who need those homes.

“We are here to represent those people, to be the voice of those people.

Bracknell News:

“We owe it to them to stand firm and send a message to developers.

“We will ask you every time to stick to the policy. We want affordable houses for our residents.”

Cllr Gbadebo’s speech inspired opposition to the lack of affordable housing from councillors Tony Virgo and Peter Heydon, too.

After raising other issues with the application such as road safety issues near the site and its potential impact on badger habitats, councillors voted to refuse the plans.

The planning committee met on Thursday, November 12.