CHESHIRE East Council has defended its decision to use money allocated for affordable housing to clear the way for a gypsy and traveller site in Cledford Lane.

East Cheshire residents are currently being asked to have their say on a draft housing strategy which aims to address the need for affordable housing across the borough – with the council proposing a commitment to 'facilitate the delivery of 355 affordable homes per year' by March 2019.

In its strategy, CEC claims that the borough needs 'a mix of small and family-sized homes to meet housing needs, including overcrowded families and people looking to downsize'.

But the council is using section 106 (S106) money from a development in Holmes Chapel, which was allocated for affordable housing across the borough, to demolish Cledford Hall Barn – which is set to provide space for CEC's proposed transit site.

Cllr Jonathan Parry, Middlewich Town Council member, insists it is 'sickening' that CEC is using the money 'just to build pitches for caravans'.

"Building a transit site is not building affordable housing," he told the Guardian.

"Does that mean the council can just build these sites everywhere to fulfil its affordable housing quota?"

A spokesman at CEC said: "This particular S106 agreement did not specify that the contribution should be spent in Holmes Chapel and, as the council at that time was looking to provide a transit site for travellers, the council opted to allocate this contribution to the project.

"It is not uncommon for local authorities to follow this procedure when the allocation of S106 money is not specified.

"While some people may take issue with this, there is nothing improper in the council’s course of action. The council is required to address the housing need of gypsy and traveller families under the 2004 Housing Act."