Harry can build seafront flats without affordable housing

081831_75_G_TRAINING_GROUND_SR_22/4/08'Pompey manager Harry Redknapp.''PICTURE:STEVE REID(081831-75)

081831_75_G_TRAINING_GROUND_SR_22/4/08'Pompey manager Harry Redknapp.''PICTURE:STEVE REID(081831-75)

Proud members of the ship's company watch as the giant warship inches her way to sea for the first time. From left, Able Seaman (AB) Natasha Elford, AB Layton Toward and AB Richard Mead

HMS Queen Elizabeth begins the long voyage to Portsmouth

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HARRY Redknapp has been allowed to sidestep building affordable homes on Southsea seafront.

The former Pompey boss’s firm Pierfront Developments has been told it can build 91 flats at the Savoy buildings site on South Parade – even though none of them will be sold as affordable housing.

Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee took the decision after a last-minute increase in an offer from Pierfront to contribute money to building homes elsewhere.

Cllr Lee Hunt, who chaired the meeting, said: ‘It is a difficult balancing act as we have a contract with the people of Portsmouth to make sure houses are provided to those who need them.

‘But this is an important seafront development site and the people of the city want to see something done quickly.’

Pierfront’s original agreement with the council was that 28 of the 91 flats would be sold to a social housing provider.

But in June the company asked to go ahead with the flats without affordable housing but was turned down by the planning committee.

Last month the company made an improved offer which included £400,000 to be given to the council to build affordable housing in the city.

And just hours before yesterday’s meeting the development firm increased that offer to £600,000.

The council’s housing boss, Cllr Steve Wylie, said the deal was unacceptable.

He said: ‘It’s simply profit before people’s lives.

‘This offer is less than a quarter of the amount of money that would be needed to provide the original amount of affordable housing the company agreed to.

‘For us to build 28 units elsewhere would cost £2.84m. We estimate the £600,000 will pay for just eight homes.

‘Who is going to have to tell 20 families that they have to wait longer for housing? It won’t be Harry Redknapp.’

The council has a housing waiting list of 2,553 applicants but Claire Upton-Brown, the council’s assistant head of planning, promised this decision would not affect the council’s future affordable housing policy. She said: ‘The policy remains that one third of all new developments must be affordable housing and each planning application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

‘If, as in this case, a development will not make a profit of 23 per cent we will consider reducing the amount of affordable housing which must be provided.’

The agreement means Pierfront Developments must have completed the outside building works in three years. The £100,000 already paid by Pierfront Developments to the council for the scheme will be used to improve the area near the Savoy buildings.

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