Altitude yet to justify its lack of affordable housing

Greg Clark

THE company behind the Belvedere project to transform the old cinema site from a derelict eyesore into a mixed use development have yet to justify their lack of affordable
housing to the council, the Times understands.
Altitude UK submitted plans for the development, featuring 108 flats, 60,000 sq ft of retail
space and a new cinema, on July 7.
The design has been criticised by the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society, both in terms of the
aesthetic aspect and because it will not include any affordable housing. The society said the size of the development means around 35 affordable units would be legally required.
Altitude hit back, stating architectural tastes are ‘subjective’ and the lack of affordable housing has come about because they decided to scale back the project in response to public feedback.
Developers are allowed to reduce the number of affordable houses they supply in a given
project as long as they can prove it is deemed justifiable by the planning authorities.
The lack of provision is often offset by financial settlements which then go towards making improvements to infrastructure, services or more affordable housing elsewhere in the area.
The amount paid, called a section 106 agreement, is determined by the council. However, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said it is yet to receive the appropriate data
from Altitude for them to make an informed decision on what, if anything, will be owed.
A council spokesman said: “In order to justify not providing affordable housing, a  developer must submit a confidential Viability Appraisal which is then independently reviewed.
“We do not have the results of this exercise yet in respect of the cinema site, and therefore we cannot say for sure at this stage of the application process that there will be no contribution towards affordable housing.”

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