Labour councillors have criticised the council over the issue of affordable housing provision at Shoreham’s Ropetackle North site.
Planning permission was granted for homes, a cafe and a hotel at the Old Shoreham Road site in 2015, with the requirement that 22 per cent of homes in the development were affordable.
However since then, and following an independent assessment, developers have said they were no longer able to afford to deliver the rented accommodation due to viability concerns.
In July this year, a cabinet member made the decision to release £720,000 from the council’s affordable housing budget in order to deliver affordable housing at the site, including 14 rented flats.
But Labour councillors have pointed out that the original requirements included four houses to rent, as well as 13 flats.
Councillor Les Alden said: “This was a lose-lose decision for local people and the council.
“The council would give the developer money in return for taking affordable rented houses for local people out of the scheme.
“It’s a double whammy for local people.”
But councillor Carson Albury, Adur District Council’s Executive Member for Customer Services, defended the decision.
He said: “The information presented by officers was that, due to the high infrastructure costs associated with flood defences at Ropetackle North and the uncertain financial climate, Hyde were unable to provide the agreed level of affordable housing for viability reasons.
“To ensure the creation of much-needed high-quality housing for local families, I believe it is right for the council to step in and secure these new homes.”
The £720,000 came from Right To Buy receipts, which the council was reinvesting in social housing, he said, adding that the homes would belong to the council in perpetuity.
He dismissed Mr Alden’s comments as ‘political point’ scoring.
“Why is Labour objecting to building social housing? It baffles me beyond belief,” he said.
A request by Labour councillors for the decision to be ‘called in’ for scrutiny has been accepted and the issue will come before councillors on the overview and scrutiny committee on September 3.
It is not the decision itself that will be scrutinised, but the decision making process and whether or not decision-makers complied with the principles of decision making.
Labour councillors said the decision notice had stated that no responses to the proposal had been made, despite the fact that Mr Alden had submitted a letter raising concerns.
Mr Albury said: “I’m more than happy to fully co-operate with scrutiny’s request to investigate the process of how a decision was made on this vital issue.”
The first homes at the waterside development in Shoreham are due to be completed between September and December this year, according to Hyde Homes.