A HOUSE builder has claimed it cannot include affordable flats in an otherwise luxury complex despite promising to do so in return for planning approval.

Developer Crest Nicholson South has made an offer of £1.2 million for Brighton and Hove City Council to build cheaper housing elsewhere after claiming it cannot create them as part of a new development in Hove.

But councillors have condemned the move which they say will divide communities and create ghettoisation with less affluent residents all housed away from the richer people.

And Crest Nicholson’s inability to deliver affordable housing will raise concerns about whether similar problems will arise with its £200 million King Alfred leisure centre regeneration.

Crest Nicholson South was granted consent in February to level offices in Davigdor Road, Hove, and build 47 flats with eight being designated affordable.

But the housebuilder contacted the council in August to say its chosen registered social landlord (RSL) Affinity Sutton had pulled out of the agreement and it could not reach an agreement with under bidder Hyde Housing.

Five other providers also turned down the chance with the Government’s decision to reduce social rents by one per cent for the next four years cited as a reason.

RSL Affinity Sutton also reportedly told Crest Nicholson that only managing a proportion of the block was an issue.

But city councillors at last night’s planning committee raised serious concerns about the proposal and voted to defer a decision on the offer.

Conservative councillor Lee Wares said the affordable housing paid for by the £1.2 million might not be ready for years down the line at a time when the city needed it most now.

Green councillor Leo Littman said there was a risk of the “ghettoisation” of social housing if developers were able to buy their way out of providing affordable homes in more desirable areas of the city.

Planning officers said they could not answer Labour councillor Lloyd Russell-Moyle’s question over why the city council could not step in and take on the management itself and that clarification was needed from housing officers.

Fellow Labour Councillor Adrian Morris said he was concerned that the decision would set a precedent for other developers to go back on affordable housing provision.

After the meeting, a spokesman for the King Alfred leisure centre redevelopment told The Argus that the “affordable element” of that scheme will be provided on the same seafront site and that the £200 million project would not face similar problems.

An Affinity Sutton spokeswoman said: “Following a review of the project we took the decision that this proposal does not meet with our current strategic objectives.

“This is not however a reflection on our aspirations to provide much needed new housing in Brighton and Hove and we remain committed to seeking new development opportunities in this local authority area.”