Affordable homes in Poundbury are getting smaller

Affordable homes in Poundbury are getting smaller

Published by George Sharpe at 12:01am 25th August 2019.

HOME sizes at the Duchy’s Poundbury estate in Dorchester are shrinking – with some proposed units for social housing now smaller than national standards.

It has been revealed that some already agreed on the estate are already below the standard although it is not enforceable. The Local Plan fails to stipulate a minimum size.

There has also been criticism that garages are too narrow for many modern cars, forcing their drivers to park on the streets, detracting from the Prince’s vision to hide cars from view, where possible.

Councillors have now urged developers to make sure they install underground ducting during any new builds for charging electric cars.

Planning committee members made the comments during discussion on two sites at Poundbury yet to be built on – one to the north of Crown West Street and the other to the west of the Royal Pavilion. Both sites already have planning permission, between them for 85 homes, with councillors discussing the details and some changes to the schemes proposed by builders Zero C.

Of the 85 units 53 are indicated to be private and 32 ‘affordable.’

Committee members heard on Wednesday that among the changes was a reduction in internal floor area for five of the affordable homes, from 76.5 to 72.4 square metres with another five being reduced from 93.5 to of 83.2 sq m.

Other changes include a reduction in floor area for flats in two blocks on the second area although this was not quantified, and a third floor flat being omitted from the scheme. There will also be changes to include alterations to a carport/refuse/cycle store building on west side of site to incorporate two flats above.

Said Dorchester councillor Les Fry:

“Are we really saying that people in affordable housing have to live in smaller properties than anyone else?”

Later, when moving for the council to accept the changes, he said he hoped the developer would note the comments.

Cllr Robin Potter, chair of Dorchester town council’s planning committee, told his Dorset Council colleagues that they had recommended refusal:

“Members were particularly concerned that there would be a loss of residential amenity, particularly to the affordable housing units and there was a lack of commitments to environmental and sustainability at this early stage of development,” he said.

It was claimed that for some flats there would now no longer be a separate, defined, kitchen area, as a result of the changes, and the flats would be left with “cramped overall living space with very limited provision for storage”.

Town councillors were also unhappy about the design of two the blocks which they said:

“results in an austere and overbearing appearance which is lacking in visual interest”.

But despite the criticisms the committee approved the changes. A report to councillors from the council’s planning team said:

“Generally in terms of scale layout and appearance the scheme is not that different to that previously approved, particularly in the context of these two sectors being for only 85 of the up to 1200 dwellings consented in phases 3 and 4.”

The same report said that while most of the properties being discussed were above the Government’s Nationally Described Space Standards (NDSS) plots 450 – 454 would have gross internal floors areas 0.8 sq m smaller than the NDSS while the houses on plots 439 – 444 would be 6.6 sq m smaller than the NDSS.

“It should be noted that the houses on plots 439 – 444 in the already consented scheme do not meet the NDSS and in fact their gross internal floor area is only reduced by 4.1 sq m from 76.5 sq m to 72.4 sq m in this revised scheme. It should also be noted that the NDSS are guidance only and do not form policy…. It is considered that the reduction in gross internal floor area would not result in an unacceptable impact on residential amenity.”

By Local Democracy Reporter, Trevor Bevins