Developers in Salford are set to be hit by a new Kiddie Bedroom Tax, as the Council struggles to find primary school places for its booming young population.
Salford Council has been constantly criticised in the past by the Salford Star, amongst others, for bulldozing primary schools in the city to reduce `surplus places' (see previous articles Salford Primary School Chaos - click here and The Salford Star Told You So - click here).
Now there is a deficit of school places, and a Salford Council `Supplementary Planning Document' states that "many schools are either full or approaching capacity…This will require significant capital investment in the expansion of existing schools and may require the establishment of new schools".
The Council reveals that the city needs 4,500 additional primary places by the year 2018-19 – before any new houses have been built – and adds that "It is clear that additional housing development will create further pressure in terms of the requirement for school places".
While Salford will have received almost £20million from the Government by 2015 to increase primary school capacity, it is set to hit developers building ten new houses or more with an `education contribution', or Kiddie Bedroom Tax.
New apartments, one bedroom houses and student/sheltered housing are exempt, but developers will have to make payments based on an `average primary pupil yield from dwellings', even for affordable housing... "If the city council were to exempt affordable tenure dwellings it would imply that the provision of affordable housing will always be the highest priority for the city council in all instances" states a Council report "which is not necessarily the case…"
Developers will pay £1,008 per new two bedroom house; £2,016 per three bedroom house; £3,024 per four bedroom house and £4,033 per five bedroom house.
The new fees would be on top of normal `infrastructure' payments per property. Within large developments, developers will also be required to set aside land on which to build new schools. The Council reports states that if the developer "fails to make appropriate provision…this would justify the refusal of planning permission".
While the Kiddie Bedroom Tax - making house builders pay for the pressure their projects will put on the city's schools - has been broadly welcomed by the city's community groups, there are get-out clauses for developers where they can try and prove that a scheme won't be `viable' with the new payments.
Even so, the developers are kicking off, with Countryside Properties stating at the stakeholders consultation stage that the Council's actions are possibly `unlawful' and that it would be "seeking legal advice and/or redress on each occasion the Council seeks to impose a section 106 obligation on a development under the Education Contributions SPD".
Meanwhile, in the consultation, Peel Holdings, as usual, used the situation to press Salford Council to release Green Belt land… "In certain circumstances, schools can be built within accessible parts of the Green Belt using land that is not needed for other development. Whilst this requires `very special circumstances', meeting educational needs may be accepted as such."
Despite possible legal challenges from developers, the Council is determined to introduce the Education Contributions, or Kiddie Bedroom Tax, which will go to the Assistant Mayor for Strategic Planning on August 20th to be rubber stamped.
The Council report concludes "Salford is currently facing a significant increase in the demand for school places at the primary school level. The increase in demand for school places is creating very significant pressures at the primary school level, where many schools are either full or approaching capacity.
"The purpose of the Education Contributions SPD is to raise financial contributions from new housing development within the city which will be directed to funding works associated with addressing the increased pressure on existing school provision that a development will generate.
"If the city council does not raise contributions from new development, the city council would have to fund the capital works associated with the creation of additional school places arising from new housing development from its existing budgets."
* Before the Kiddie Bedroom Tax comes into force, this September the following primary schools will take huge new numbers of pupils…
* Lark Hill Community Primary School will be enlarged by 105 pupils
* Lewis Street Community Primary School will be enlarged by 210 pupils
* Peel Hall Community Primary School will be enlarged by 210 pupils
* St Luke's RC Primary School will be enlarged by 105 pupils
* St Mark's CE Primary School (Worsley) will be enlarged by 105 pupils
* St Thomas of Canterbury RC Primary School will be enlarged by 210 pupils
* And work will begin to build a replacement school building for Mesne Lea Primary School to double its capacity from 210 to 420 pupils by 2016