THE BOROUGH COUNCIL defended its plan for housing development in Grazeley, after a local councillor called the plans “non-viable”.
Speaking at the borough council executive meeting held virtually on Thursday, July 30, Cllr Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey said: “When are you planning to restart the local plan update committee, since Grazeley is non-viable without the DCLG funding according to a statement by the housing executive at an executive committee meeting and most other sources are not available due to the spending on the pandemic?”
But Cllr Wayne Smith, executive member for planning and enforcement said that Grazeley was not an “un-viable proposition”.
He said: “It has a heavy forward funding burden which would have been lifted by a successful Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid.”
Cllr Smith said that responding to the HIF bid, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government suggested: “Most of the infrastructure could be funded by other means if for example, it was progressively delivered with the build out of the development, or using loan finance.”
Cllr Shepherd-DuBey was noticeably unhappy with the answer, and pointed out that the Government is “proposing our housing numbers will be changed in late autumn”.
She said: “Considering the Government wants to raise build numbers across the country, how will we take this into account with the local plan update?”
Cllr Smith said the council would reply on its legal team to push back.
He said: “If they do come back to us with a higher number, we will be testing anything they put forward, to make sure it works for us and not for the Government.”