Fringe Box



Affordable Homes Total Slashed for Deepcut MoD Development

Published on: 1 Nov, 2021
Updated on: 3 Nov, 2021

The “Mindenhurst” development area in Deepcut – Google Maps

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

In a decision that will resonate with Guildford residents, councillors and planners, Deepcut, just over the borough border with Surrey Heath, has lost out on an anticipated 186 affordable homes as councillors were powerless to stop a developer backtracking on the initial expectation.

Surrey Heath Borough Council’s Planning Committee has reluctantly allowed the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to reduce the level of affordable housing at Princess Royal Barracks from a target of 35 to 20 per cent overall.

The former headquarters of the Royal Logistics Corps and Defence School of Logistics was given permission in 2014 for 1,200 new dwellings, of which 420 were to be affordable.

But the site will now end up with only 234 affordable homes because of “considerably escalated costs”.

Surrey Heath Borough Council offices in Camberley where the planning meeting was held – Image Google Street View

At a planning meeting on Thursday (Oct 28) Cllr Paul Deach (Con, Mytchett & Deepcut) said: “It’s beyond me frankly that a developer can get out of its obligations to provide affordable homes.

“It blows my mind that the viability would support the developer so it can do exactly that.”

Fellow ward councillor Morgan Rise (LD) agreed: “I think it’s a real shame that planning legislation that governs us from central government affords the developers an out when it comes to viability.

“It’s a real shame that they can seemingly agree to a target at the beginning and then at the end they just go, well actually, it’s no longer viable.”

Council consultant Andrew Jones said costs had gone up 12 per cent in five months because of “reduced numbers of people on site due to Covid, delays in contractors and material costs”.

The applicant, Defence Infrastructure Organisation on behalf of the defence secretary, is now expected to get a return of five per cent rather than the more usual 20 per cent.

Mr Jones told the planning committee: “In terms of screwing them to the floor we have, I think, done the best deal we can do, whilst leaving some benefit to them. It’s right at the bottom level, if we push it any lower then there is no benefit to proceeding further.”

Committee chair Edward Hawkins said he was “astounded” that the Land Registry said house prices had only gone up 4.1 per cent over the last four years. “Certainly in this area you can’t find a house; they’re on the market for three days and they’ve gone,” he said.

Mr Jones said prices had risen more in places further from London like Cornwall and Wales with people buying second homes, but: “I think that we will continue to see a relatively stable if not rising market”.

Cllr Deach said he had sought advice from a number of planning experts and could find nothing “to ensure that this attempt fails”.

He added: “In fact, I’ve discovered there is a letter sent to the developers in 2017 from the then lead officer agreeing that the overall site-wide provision will be “subject to future discussion”. I don’t ever recall this aspect coming to planning applications committee.”

Cllr Rise said Deepcut residents were “sick and tired of the constant delays” and permission was granted unanimously.

Some of the houses and apartments have already been delivered by CALA in what is now known as Mindenhurst.

Planning consent also extends to a new primary school and nursery, care home, three shops, supermarket pub, village green, allotments, sports pitches and multi-use games area.

The committee heard the MoD plans to prepare the land for building and provide roads and sewers before selling the plots to developers, who will then have to take on the agreed affordable housing provision.

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Responses to Affordable Homes Total Slashed for Deepcut MoD Development

  1. Sue Reeve Reply

    November 1, 2021 at 7:18 pm

    A classic use of the viability clause after receiving planning consent. Happens most times and the developers get away with it every time.

    Clearly, they can’t do the maths the first time around for the application process but magically can rework their finances post consent. It’s an outrageous abuse of the planning laws and can be seen happening time and again as our Local Plan sites come on stream.

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