Fossetts Farm housing approved

More than 100 homes will be built on former NHS land at Fossetts Farm, Southend, despite being branded a lost opportunity to build more social housing.

The homes will be built on a 15-acre plot on former farmland to the rear of Waitrose supermarket and near to a B&Q store off Eastern Avenue.

The land, formerly owned by the NHS, was sold to Homes England and was initially earmarked for more than 400 homes.

Southend Council’s development control committee approved the plans on Wednesday despite hundreds of objections.

Martin Berry, Labour councillor for St Luke’s ward and former member of the Fossetts for the People campaign group spoke against the application, saying 400 good quality sustainable homes could be built instead of 131 executive homes.

He said: “This proposal has the bare legal minimum of so-called affordable housing, just 40 out of 131 homes.

“Of those 40, 16 would be under the controversial, long term and often very costly shared ownership scheme and there is no indication that these so called affordable remaining 24 will actually be affordable to the people because the definition of affordable for this purpose takes no account of local wage levels.

“Key workers here who are most in need of truly affordable housing will find this proposed development well beyond their means.”

Cllr Berry added: “This is not the best use of the land.

“It’s publicly owned land and should be used for much needed public housing. It’s very much in the public interest that this land be used for social and truly affordable social housing instead of these proposed up-market properties given the huge housing crisis we have in Southend and a waiting list of over 1000 households for council homes.”

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said there were few grounds for refusal and an appeal could be costly for the council.

She said: “We’ve seen recently the government is hell bent on more housing and obviously we are as well for the right reasons but they don’t differentiate as to what type of housing that should be. An inspector will view an application in that way. The scheme complies with our policies so taking all of those things into account I cannot envisage voting against this application.”

The committee voted eight to two in favour of the application.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter