DEVELOPERS behind plans to build 260 homes on land off Bower Lane in Bridgwater have been granted permission to reduce the number of affordable homes in order to make the scheme 'viable'.

Winters and Edward Ware Homes asked to reduce the number of affordable homes already agreed from 30 per cent down to just 12 per cent, from 78 units down to just 32.

The applicants say this revised position is due to 'the high benchmark value of the site', the higher than normal construction costs associated with clearing the site which feature extensive glass houses and a 'reasonable profit level of 16.74 per cent'.

The proposal is for 260 homes to be built on land at Bower Farm, with public open space and green infrastructure, a new roundabout on Westonzoyland Road to provide access and a spine road which will link to the northern part of the proposed allocation.

The matter was decided at Sedgemoor District Council's development committee on Tuesday, October 15.

In a report to members, the Sedgemoor District Council Affordable Housing Manager is quoted saying: "The independent review puts forward a compelling case in support of a reduced affordable housing offer.

"Put simply, in light of the current assumed development costs and future income, this development is not viable with a policy compliant 30 per cent affordable housing package."

The Sedgemoor District Council viability advisor added that the applicant’s costs of development and sale values are accepted.

They comment: "A number of tests have been run at 30 per cent affordable housing with 20 per cent and 17.5 per cent profit on the open market units.

"In both scenarios a land value significantly below the benchmark are arrived at indicating an unviable development."

Two objections were received stating this is not a valid reason to alter the permission and is 'putting profits before social housing'.

The planning officer concluded that it is justified for the applicant to reduce the affordable housing offer.

The request to reduce the percentage of affordable housing from 30 per cent to 12 per cent was approved.