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Wiltshire Council housing officer’s evidence to Salisbury Road depot planning case

In a recent development Wiltshire Council’s New Housing Team has been asked to give evidence on the planning application for the care home and assisted living homes at the Old Council Depot site on Salisbury Road.

The scheme, which has already been turned down by Marlborough Town Council, includes the building of 28 assisted living units. 

In her response last month, the New Housing Team’s principal development officer has pointed out that the Council’s Older People’s Accommodation Strategy (2010) called for ‘at least 45 units of extra care accommodation within the Marlborough community area’ – with a target date for these of 2014/15.

She has also raised the key issue of affordable housing in relation to this development.

It is well understood that the Marlborough community area is desperately short of affordable homes for people of all ages. Only six such homes were built in the area last year.

New Housing’s Belinda Kanzurovska states that whether any of these new assisted living homes will be ‘affordable homes’ depends on how they are classified.  ‘Dwelling houses’ are C3 and a percentage of those houses in a new development can be required to be affordable.

However ‘residential institutions’ (an apparently wide category of housing) are classed as C2 and do not involve any requirement for affordable homes to be included in a development.

Proposed 'assisted living' blockProposed 'assisted living' blockIf the assisted living units in the Depot scheme are classified as C3, then the New Homes department will seek an affordable housing contribution of 40 per cent which equates to 11 homes out of the 28 units.

The officer emphasises that there is an “undersupply of suitable affordable housing for older people in this area”.  The need for affordable homes is not restricted to the young or first time buyers.

The problem is that there is confusion and debate as to whether ‘assisted living units’ are C2 or C3.

As part of its plan to bring more empty commercial buildings into the housing market, the government carried out a consultation.  
Giving evidence to this, McCarthy and Stone, who are a large provider of homes for the elderly in Britain but are not involved in this development, urged the government to redefine ‘specialist housing for older people’ so that it would not attract affordable housing quotas or the Community Infrastructure Levy.

So far the government has not ruled on any new definitions for C2 and C3 dwellings.

The Old Council Depot development’s design

In another paper put to the Planning Committee last month, a consultant Urban Designer criticises the ‘high density of development’ and the ‘limited spaces between buildings’ which will restrict ‘the amenities enjoyed by the residents’.

This paper also criticises the height of the roofs which will become ‘dominant features in views of the town’s suburbs from Salisbury Hill.’  These roofs will also mean some of the open spaces will be in shade most of the year.

And the consultant wonders why the developer is spending money on ‘elaborate chimney stacks’ which have no function.

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