Relaxed housing rules for Sealand site 'unacceptable'

RAF Sealand
Image caption Little has happened on site since outline planning permission was granted in 2012

Flintshire councillors have accused officers of relaxing policies to allow a housing development to go ahead.

Plans for 283 new homes at the old RAF Sealand base were approved despite some objections to the affordable housing element being cut from 30% to 10%.

A requirement to pay nearly £700,000 to expand the local primary school has also been dropped.

Senior officers said the changes were needed to kickstart the long-awaited £95m Northern Gateway project.

Progress has stalled since outline planning permission was granted in 2012 for a development opposite the Deeside Industrial Park including more than a thousand houses, along with shops and businesses.

As Flintshire's Labour leaders ensured the first detailed housing plans were voted through, opposition leaders were unhappy that the assessment to justify the relaxing of conditions was not made public.

Image copyright Countryside PLC
Image caption Planning officers said approval for the homes was needed to boost investor confidence in the site

Councillor Mike Peers, leader of the Independent Alliance group, said: "We're told the application is supported by a financial assessment, but where is it?

"It's all at the expense of cutting back on the affordable housing and totally unacceptable."

Labour's former deputy leader Bernie Attridge, who now leads the Flintshire Independents, was concerned about the pressure on schools.

"Where are all the kids going to go when there's no contribution?" he asked.

"Surely anyone purchasing the site should be well aware of what the upfront costs are going to be."

Senior officers told councillors that land would be made available to the school for expansion at a later date, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Head of planning Andy Roberts defended the relaxation of conditions, saying: "We have to develop developer confidence and investment confidence in this site."

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