Developer set to quit after row over affordable homes in village

A HOUSING association says it could walk away from a controversial £3m development in an East Riding village.

A group of villagers are furious about being kept in the dark over moves to build 23 affordable homes on a green field site on Sands Lane, in Holme on Spalding Moor (HOSM).

The parish council announced it was supporting the proposals in its newsletter in July – which was sponsored by Chevin, the housing association involved.

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Residents say they were told by parish council chairman Chris Worrall at a meeting on July 15 that, other than giving various landowners' details to Chevin, the first he knew of the site's location and progress was at a presentation on May 25.

However e-mails unearthed by resident Bob Hill under Freedom of Information legislation showed there was correspondence between Chevin and the parish council dating back to early February. Extracts were read out at a packed parish council meeting last week.

An e-mail of February 4, reacting to one site falling through, from the clerk to Chevin, and copied to Mr Worrall, stated "what a disappointment" and added: "We definitely want to move forward on providing affordable housing to HOSM."

On April 12 Kester Horn from Chevin emailed the clerk and Mr Worrall that they were meeting one landowner's agent, adding:"If the meeting is successful, it may be worth mentioning the developments at the PC meeting, although I'm not sure if giving the site details would necessarily be helpful yet."

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In June Mr Horn advised the clerk as to what he could say after getting a call from a resident saying someone had been seen surveying land.

He said: "In terms of some sort of statement it may be worth waiting until the newsletter, but if required in the meantime you could confirm that as far as you are aware no planning application has been received and this would be necessary before development could commence."

Put on the spot, Mr Worrall told the meeting he'd never met the landowner, adding: "You've got an issue, take me to the Standards Board."

Parish councillor Nick Evans recommended that a halt was called to a process which had become "tainted and could have been handled better".

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The parish council has since contacted Chevin to suggest work is put on hold while it consults residents.

In a statement Chevin said: "Chevin has not acquired any land in the village, nor submitted a planning application for an affordable housing scheme.

"Chevin is currently reviewing its options, one of which may be to walk away from developing an affordable housing scheme in the village altogether."

Contacted by the Yorkshire Post, parish council clerk Steve Young said: "Some of the things said against parish councillors at meetings have been disgraceful."

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When approached, Mr Worrall said: "I haven't done anything wrong as a parish councillor and neither have the parish councillors done anything wrong. There are two ways you can read letters. This has got twisted and turned and gone beyond the planning issue.

"We couldn't say anything. It was up to Chevin – they were the ones negotiating to buy the land.

"At the end of the day people have heard about it a lot earlier than a normal planning application, when the first they would have known is an application going up on a lamppost."

The parish council returned the cheque for the July issue of the newsletter to Chevin, after the payment was queried at a meeting last month.

Ward councillor Paul Robinson said it would be "tragic" if Chevin walked away and urged all sides to come together adding: "There is clearly an identified need for affordable housing in HOSM."