Huntingdonshire District Council is watering down its affordable housing requirements in exchange for a quicker start on site at a major urban fringe expansion area near St Neots.

The authority’s planners were concerned that the scheme would not deliver the 40% affordable housing level required by their adopted planning policies. However, planning approval was recommended on the basis that the developer, Gallagher Estates, pledged to commence work on the scheme in a “timely” fashion.

The project for 1,020 new homes is proposed on 71.5 hectares of land north of Cambridge Road, on the eastern edge of the town. The site is part of the St Neots Eastern Expansion Area, identified as a strategic growth location in the council’s recently submitted local plan.

Clara Kerr, planning service manager at Huntingdonshire Council, said that this is the first time the authority has tried this approach. “There is pressure on local authorities to deliver much-needed housing, including affordable housing, and associated infrastructure,” she said. “In our view, the best way forward is to work collaboratively with developers, stakeholders and residents.”