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Controversial south Leamington flat blocks decision to be overturned, council confirms

Approved plans for two flat blocks in south Leamington with no affordable housing will ‘not go ahead’, Warwick District Council has confirmed.

The council has been forced to overturn the controversial decision taken by the planning committee earlier this month.

It gave the green light to an application for two new purpose-built accommodation blocks with 90 bed spaces in Court Street.

The Liberal Democrat chair of the committee Alan Boad used his casting vote to block deferral and instead grant approval by three votes to two.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has criticised the decision for going against its own housing policy and national planning legislation.

He also raised concerns about the flats damaging businesses and environmental charity Action 21.

But he says that last week he was assured by council leader Andrew Day the plans would not proceed.

He later received an email from the council’s portfolio holder for housing and assets, Councillor Jan Matecki.

It states: “I can confirm that even though the developer has obtained planning permission for the site, I and WDC will not be agreeing for the scheme to go ahead.”

Mr Western says Liberal Democrat councillor Mr Boad was wrong to approve the application – even though the council’s own policy requires two fifths of homes in large developments to be affordable.

“We know the Conservative councillors are not serious about building social housing and truly affordable homes for people in the district – they have a miserable record,” Mr Western said.

“But the Liberal Democrats have now also shown their true colours – as it is unconscionable to approve such a major development when it will price out people on low incomes.

“This is an embarrassing U-turn for the council and, unfortunately, it is not the first time we’ve seen a volte face over developments without affordable housing.

“The ill-fated Riverside House council offices plan also went against the council’s own policy for the number of affordable homes – and has cost the taxpayer a great deal despite its failure.

“We must have social rent, council, well insulated and net-zero housing to tackle the housing crisis.

“If we don’t, it is only highly profitable developers – and not their tenants – who reap the benefits.”

Plans in 2016 for housing on the same site were eventually shelved, despite 40% of the proposed homes being affordable.

The proposed blocks would be built over the current site of Action 21’s shop, which recycles second-hand goods including bicycles, as well as several other long-standing businesses and would require them to find alternative locations.

The charity’s chair of trustees Belinda Pyke fears it will be very difficult to find a new home if it loses the site in Court Street.