HOUSING developers have been warned that maximising their profits by scrimping on affordable housing and green features such as solar panels will not be tolerated.

Members of Richmondshire District Council highlighted environmental and social concerns as plans for the first large-scale housing estate was approved by its planning committee since the authority declared a climate emergency in July.

As a result of the climate declaration, the council has agreed to ensure all its strategic decisions, budget formulation and planning policy is enacted to ensure protection of the environment and achievement of net-zero carbon in the district by 2030.

As plans for a 67-home estate off Hipswell Road, Catterick Garrison were considered, councillors questioned officers over how far they would push the developer to meet the council’s policy for all new housing to exceed the heat and power conservation standards in building regulations.

Green councillor Kevin Foster highlighted how the climate declaration in July had seen the council specifically agree to work towards a requirement for new-build houses to use sustainable energy sources, such as solar panels and ground source heat pumps.

Officers replied that a condition of the development gaining planning permission would be that such green measures would be pursued by officers “to the maximum level that is feasible and viable”.

They added the developers would have to confirm how carbon savings would be achieved and how the properties’ environmental standards would exceed building regulation requirements alongside an explanation of why this would be the maximum level that was feasible and viable before building work started.

A number of other members, including the council’s leader, Councillor Angie Dale, emphasised to planning officers that such environmental issues had become key considerations.

Following members expressing concerns over trees being felled to make way for the development, councillors called for developers to be obliged to plant the same number of trees elsewhere, in places such as the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The authority’s former deputy leader Councillor Ian Threlfall added it was disappointing that the estate would only include 22 per cent affordable housing - almost half the expected proportion in the district - after developers had claimed balancing the books meant only building 15 affordable homes.

He said the authority needed to tackle what had become an increasing issue over affordable housing over the last year. Cllr Threlfall said: “When developers come into Richmondshire they are completely aware there area areas where we anticipate 30 per cent or 40 per cent affordable housing. It seems that the district loses out every time on what may be slightly inflated figures. The losers are the people who need affordable housing.”