A CONTROVERSIAL development which will see hundreds of flats built in Southend has been given the go-ahead.

Plans for a 15-storey block made up of 217 flats on a car park in Victoria Avenue were approved by the council’s development committee.

The proposal was an amendment to a previous Weston Homes application for 227 flats which was rejected last year due to a lack of affordable homes and the block’s impact on the neighbouring Baryta House.

Braintree and Witham Times:

While issues relating to daylight have been addressed by the developer, affordable homes remain a concern due to there being just 22 – equivalent to ten per cent.

But, responding to those fears, the council’s planning team have stated the development “is not viable” with any greater amount of affordable housing.

Further concerns were raised by Labour councillor Helen McDonald who highlighted the “affordable” homes will be shared ownership rather than rented.

She said: “It specifically states this would be shared ownership, often when these come forward they will be put out to a housing association and will be affordable rent.

“I wondered what is the reasoning behind having these as shared ownership as it can be more expensive than affordable rent.

“My concern is also that we would have affordable housing through shared ownership at the beginning of the scheme but then potentially that is going to be sold on on the market and become privately owned, so we would actually lose affordable housing.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

A council officer said the flats would remain as shared ownership so they will not be lost and the reason they are not affordable rented flats was due to the “viability of the scheme”. If affordable rented homes were included the developer would have been required to deliver just six units, rather than 22.

Among the 217 flats, 55 will have a single bedroom, 149 will be two-bed and 13 will be three-bed. The ground floor will also have two spaces for commercial businesses.

It includes parking spaces for 174 vehicles, two of which will be for the commercial units and 22 will be disabled spaces. Planning documents state the aim of the project is to: “Create a scheme which delivers high quality residential accommodation and activates.”