The affordable housing contribution for the construction of more than 100 flats has been increased to relieve “uncertainty” among investors.

Clarendon Road Developments Ltd's plans, which were approved in 2018, will see the demolition of Hannay House next to the Jury’s Inn hotel in Clarendon Road.

In its place there will be 23-storey block on the site called 37-39 Clarendon Road consisting of 154 flats, a cafe, restaurant, gym and parking spaces for cars and bikes. There will also be office space covering eight floors.

The applicant,Clarendon Road Developments Ltd, returned to Watford Borough Council’s planning committee last Wednesday (July 19) to amend the previous section 106 agreement agreed two years ago. The amendment was approved.

Prior to the meeting, the applicant was required to pay a minimum financial contribution of £1.4 million to meet affordable housing needs and then go through a later review stage.

The council’s review clause would mean that a sum for the contribution would be agreed only after the homes are completed and the cost of the building units and market values are assessed.

This could have been more or less than the initial £1.4 million.

The applicant’s amendment sought to increase the contribution up to £1.65 million on the basis that the review mechanism was taken out of the agreement.

A council officer explained that the developer is looking for a builder, but was unable to secure the funding due to the uncertainty of the cost created by the review clause.

The scheme, which needs to be started before the May 1 next year, was therefore unable to move forward.

Cllr Richard Smith said: "The review mechanism are there from the council’s point of a view as a safety mechanism , and it makes me uneasy when we start to move away from these things, I do feel it is a little bit vague and uncertain as we’re committing to this and then the balls then out of our court and we’re not in usual times or circumstances and we don’t know what the next five years will look like.

"So I’m slightly reluctant despite the short term gains that could be made I’m looking at the long term gains."

The £1.65 million would be in addition to the £600,000 associated with environmental improvements to Clarendon Road, the £2,000 to exclude the scheme from the controlled parking zone and the £6,000 for the long-term monitoring of the proposed travel plan.

Douglas Bond from Woolf Bond Planning, speaking in favour of the amendment said that scheme will "improve" the stock of office space in the town while also contributing to the council's housing needs.

As part of the approved amendment, the council will receive the payment at a much earlier stage to help secure affordable housing in the borough.

Mr Bond added: "Benefits of this proposal includes increasing the minimum affordable housing and for this payment to be made upon practical completion of the agreement rather than sale of the 125th unit currently required in the agreement."