A DECISION on a controversial 42-home development in Caversham was deferred by Reading Borough Council (RBC) after concern over the removal of affordable housing from the application.

The applicant, Henley Ltd, offered 30 per cent affordable housing in 2017 and had its second application approved in December 2017.

However, the applicant claimed that 30 per cent affordable housing is not viable after assessing current market conditions and has removed on-site provision from the new application.

Councillor Tony Page, deputy leader of the council and lead for strategic environment, planning & transport said: “The market has not collapsed.

“Suddenly going from 30 per cent affordable housing to none; we are going into reverse gear as far as I can see.

"I would not be happy approving this without further investigation."

Officers had negotiated a contribution from the applicant of £250,000, payable on the sale of the 90th percentile of units, and 20 per cent of the gross domestic value over £20.25m

Cllr Page added: “20 per cent may be a good offer, I don’t know. But the price paid for land is no longer a factor in determining affordable housing.”

A viability report was included in the new application to explain the removal of affordable housing.

Conservative councillor Simon Robinson said the applicant was pulling the viability assessment card.

He said: “I find myself in the strange position of agreeing with Councillor Page

"I am very disappointed with this application. They are backing out of what was a promise."

This is Henley Road Ltd’s third application for the site.

An initial application in January 2017 was described by Councillor Jan Gavin as ‘one of the most ill-considered applications that has come to committee'.

Councillor Page was also concerned that landscaping conditions had not been fully delivered.

He asked for further investigation because of the lack of affordable housing at site, calling for more information and justification.

The committee agreed to defer their decision to a later date.