Saturday, June 25, 2011

Borderline decision

An artist's impression of how the
affordable housing might have looked.

A developer who wanted to build 80 houses and 102 flats on land at Oaklands House, Redhill Road, Rowlands Castle, is being forced to go back to the drawing board after a government inspector dismissed the company’s appeal to reduce the requirement for social housing on the site.

Whopping Properties had tried to push through planning permission with only 80% of the new houses and flats available to be socially rented or sold cheaply as affordable housing.

The developers were clearly hoping to make their profits on the remaining fifth of the properties.

In an effort to swing the decision, the developers had even offered over half a million pounds, in a brown envelope, for use on existing local social housing in the northern suburb of Leigh Park.

Government inspector, Em Bargo said: “I’m afraid the developers are just too late with this bid, they might have got away with this a few months ago, in the days before the South Downs National Park (SDNP), but not now.”

All of Leigh Park, not just Rowlands Castle, falls outside of the SDNP boundary and one might think this makes planning applications comparatively simple, but the reality of the situation is in fact the complete opposite.

Bargo confirmed: “We will be keeping all kinds of new social housing to an absolute minimum in the SDNP; you will have seen recently that three sites in Petersfield had applications flatly refused.

“Existing social housing will naturally decline within the SDNP, this will be the simple economic affect of rising house prices and the cost of living in a desirable area.

“But the opposite applies to land contiguous to the SDNP; it is here that we will need to cater for those that, shall we say, cannot afford to live in the Park...”

“If Whopping Properties want to develop the land in this northern part of Leigh Park, they need to take very seriously their social responsibility.

“To be honest I’m not sure they have thought it through any way. They were hoping to build what they describe as “desirable” residences, but these would have been surrounded by social housing and house-owners who aspire to move into the SDNP.

“I think it’s a recipe for disaster and would have been something of a white elephant.

“Rental property that can be used by the transient oil refinery workers, that’s where the money will be. You mark my words.”


  1. Whopping Properties was founded in the late 1930s, first coming to fame with their successful development of social housing - in this instance for travelling military personnel - at

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