AFFORDABLE homes will be built on the Isle of Wight once again after unanimous approval was given to a scheme in Branstone.

The Isle of Wight Council's planning committee on Tuesday gave permission for 42 affordable houses at the former school-trip destination, Branstone Farm Studies Centre.

Part of the government's 'Getting Building' project, £2.4 million has been awarded for the site, which will also see most of the former farm buildings demolished and turned into office units for a rural business park.

Martyn Pearl, chief executive of Vectis Housing Association, which will be building the housing, said from the start of the scheme it was important to do justice to the ecology of the site, the biosphere designation for the Island and provide much-needed homes.

Isle of Wight County Press:

He said: "Affordable homes are absolutely critical on the Island at the moment and Vectis are key providers. They will be affordable, they will be for local people and we will look to not only provide homes but develop the community."

Read more on the plans here.

One objector, however, said he found it difficult to understand why this location was suitable for 42 homes, as it is isolated and requires a car to get to local amenities, and questioned whether, if the land had been owned or developed by someone other than the council, approval would be given.

Another objector said there was no such thing as affordable housing as developers aim to make as much profit as possible and any references to it were a 'music hall joke'.

He said: "This part of the Island is essentially rural and should remain so — the visual impact of such homes and businesses would detract from the rural scene."

Isle of Wight County Press:

Affordable houses are those which are rented out at typically no more than 80 per cent of the market rent for the property — but on the Island, it has been suggested it should be reduced further to around 60 per cent as Islanders on low incomes cannot afford much more.

In the last three years, only 50 affordable homes have been built and planning officers said this development would hold 'substantial weight' in meeting the Island's needs.

Cllr Clare Mosdell, the ward member, spoke passionately to the planning committee, asking them to approve the houses as this was a chance to 'bring life back to Branstone'.

She said: "The number of families registered on Island Homefinder is 958. The number of children under the age of 18, who are not the applicant, in these families is 1,904.

"Please do not make me listen to discussions if there is a need in rural communities for affordable houses. Do not make me listen to if our health system can take anymore. This housing is for those already on the Island, already registered with the GP and already driving a car."

Isle of Wight County Press:

Cllr Richard Hollis, a member of the committee, said he was not sure building any form of housing estate on farmland was preserving the rural character and did not want this development setting a precedent that it is 'almost a free for all for building on agricultural land'.

But he thought this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Mr Pearl said development could start as soon as February if the grant from Homes England goes through.

Isle of Wight County Press: The rural business park.The rural business park.