More proof that cash-strapped Salford City Council is losing £millions for the city comes this week as planning officers recommend that Pinnacle Developments (NW) Ltd, fronted by Daren Whitaker, should be let off with a bill for £1,908,707 as part of its financial obligations to build two horrendous apartment blocks in Greengate on New Bridge Street.
The 497 posh apartments are set to be housed in two blocks, 31 and 19 storeys high, and comprise of hundreds of one, two and three bedroom flats plus two penthouses, nine `rooftop duplexes', eight `garden flats' and seven townhouses.
Normally such a development would be subject to all sorts of payments to Salford City Council and in this case a Council planning report puts the total figure at £1,908,707, including costs towards open space, infrastructure, public realm and heritage. It would also be subjected to providing 20% affordable housing.
Incredibly though, planning officers have reported that "No affordable housing is proposed in this instance due to viability issues", while "In this instance it is agreed that the reasonable developer return, considered necessary by paragraph 173 of the NPPF, is not currently delivered by this development."
Instead, the generous applicant "has agreed to fund the provision of a replica of the former market cross that stood in the area", while the Council will try to `claw back' some cash if sales reach a `set level'.
Objectors to the plans, including Broughton MP Graham Stringer, have slated the apartment project for putting up blocks that are too high (they should be no more than twelve storeys, they argue, as suggested in the Exchange Greengate Masterplan Review); that `turns its back on the River Irwell' and privatises the river walkway, and for being `just a big gated community that does not engage with the area around it'.
At a conservative estimate, the 497 apartments would bring in well over £6million for the developers – but Salford Council is set to lose out, although residents will gain that lovely replica market cross, although even that will probably be within the confines of the new gated gardens.
* Salford Star has constantly been reporting the tearing up of developer payment and affordable housing obligations (see previous article - click here), and has asked to speak to planning officers or planning councillors so that they can explain their actions.
Our last such request was not even met with an acknowledgement or reply from the Council press office.
Update: 7th November 2013
Salford Council planning panel today approved planning permission for this building but councillors from both parties slated the fact that the developers will pay nothing to the Council.
Councillor Stephen Ord said “the policy is a joke…it’s immoral that a development of this size gives nothing back.”
Councillor Karen Garrido stressed the need for affordable housing in flats near the `regional centre’ and added that “we should start looking at suggestions for affordable housing”. She was also unhappy that there was no return from the development to the Council.
Councillor Derek Antrobus explained that it was to do with Government guidelines “we are required to put viability before planning applications…I think it’s absurd”.