Originally, the applicant was obliged to make a payment towards off-site affordable homes when permission was granted for the construction six houses on land north of Gloster Hill, in Amble.
However, at last Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s planning committee, members reluctantly but unanimously agreed that the scheme should go ahead without any contribution.
Principal planning officer Judith Murphy explained that a recent appeal decision had made it clear that local authorities could not request affordable homes or a contribution towards them if the development is for 10 properties or less and has a maximum combined floor-space of no more than 1,000 sq m.
This essentially gives legal effect to the policy which was announced late in 2014 and was criticised for its potential impact in rural areas.
Coun Heather Cairns said: “I have great concerns; 10 units in a city is nothing. Ten units in our rural areas is quite a lot. I find it very disturbing because we will not have any affordable housing in the county.”
The controversial scheme for six homes and detached garages, which actually falls into the parish of Warkworth, was approved in February despite concerns about the site’s location on a hillside next to an area prone to flooding.
It was supported by a majority of members, but three councillors voted against it.