Knock out blow for world boxing champ and key workers

Acting on behalf of former world boxing champion, Steve Collins, Paul Stinchcombe KC has secured planning permission for 330 homes in the Green Belt in St Albans, all of them affordable and all of them for key workers.

Named after the Minister who built homes for heroes after the Great War, “Addison Park” was promoted to meet the needs of those who fought on the frontline throughout the Covid pandemic, but could not afford to buy in one of the most expensive boroughs in the country, and yet earned too much to be eligible for social rented housing as well.

Promoting a new business model to extend affordable home ownership to essential local workers, the land was to be gifted for free in order to enable the market price of the housing to be discounted by at least 33%, thus allowing entry onto the housing ladder for many key workers who would otherwise be unable to live where they served.

Having recovered the appeal for himself, and by a decision letter dated 22nd March 2024, Michael Gove agreed with Inspector Michael Boniface who stated as follows with regard to this unique proposal:

“590. Appeal B would deliver 330 dwellings, 100% of which would be for affordable housing. Again, a small proportion would be self-build/custom housing plots. The properties would be secured for local key worker accommodation and military personnel, specifically seeking to provide for people that are ineligible for social and affordable rented housing in accordance with the Council’s Allocation Policy but unable to afford to buy private market housing in an area with increasing unaffordability. In short, it provides a subsidised route to home ownership for essential local workers that would otherwise be unable to afford to buy.

591. In these respects, the scheme is unusual, but is facilitated by the appellant’s desire to meet these particular needs by offering the land for free and discounting all properties by at least 33%, in excess of that required to qualify as affordable housing. Such a scheme is unquestionably a positive aspiration that would go a long way towards boosting the Council’s supply of affordable housing. In the context of such a great housing need, I attach very substantial weight to the proposed housing.

592. This weight is not diminished by the Council’s assertion that some key workers would be unable to afford the properties, even after discount. The evidence presented by the appellant shows clearly that many would, and if a situation arose where there was an insufficient number of eligible buyers, the legal agreement makes provision for key workers to become eligible from further afield, or ultimately for the housing to be released towards meeting the Council’s general affordable housing needs. As such, there are no circumstances where the scheme would fail to contribute to an identified affordable housing need. The scheme might not contribute to those most in need of affordable housing, as identified by the Council, but the Framework does not rank different types of affordable housing or suggest that some types are less important than others.”