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X1 MEDIA CITY SALFORD APARTMENTS PLANNING SCANDAL
 

Star date: 26th August 2015

FOUR TOWERS, 1,000 FLATS, OVER 30M PROFIT BUT DEVELOPER PAYS LESS THAN 50% OF PLANNING FEES

Next week, Salford Council will finally consider a planning application from developer X1 for 1,100 apartments in four huge ugly towers at MediaCityUK. According to the Council's own figures, X1 is expected to make up to 38million profit on the scheme yet, due to `viability' issues, the developer will pay only around half of the planning fees it should be paying.

Meanwhile other planning applications for Salford Quays submitted by Peel Holdings - for a six storey office block and Tokenhouse Investments for 300 student flats will also bring meagre returns to the city.

Full details here...


Back in November, the Salford Star reported how developer X1 was marketing its apartments at `X1 Media City, Manchester' despite having no planning permission and despite the media giving the impression that the scheme did have planning permission (see previous Salford Star article click here).

Finally, X1 has submitted an application which will be considered by Salford Council next week. It's for 1,100 flats, in four ugly 26 storey towers, touted by its agent Knight Knox as `the largest residential development in the North West'.

The mix of `smart pads', plus one, two and three bedroom flats, with prices ranging from 94,950 to 169,950 plus 15,000 for a parking space, is estimated by Salford Council's own figures to bring in a developer profit of around 38million.*

The last planning application, in 2012, for this site off Michigan Avenue on the Quays gave a figure of 3,651,520 for planning fees for 1,036 apartments. Now, with 64 flats added, the amount should be even higher. However, X1 will be asked to pay less than 50% of this figure.

"The applicant, whilst in agreement to provide a financial contribution, does not agree, for reasons of scheme viability, to contribute the full amount considered by the City Council as necessary to mitigate the impacts of the development" states the planning report to be considered by councillors.

"The applicant has submitted a viability appraisal in support of their position" it adds "The applicant's viability appraisal has been reviewed by the City Council's surveying consultants who have concluded that the applicant's case is sound."

There is no affordable housing within the four towers, and, instead of over 3,651,520, X1 will make a `contribution' of 1,300,740 towards improvements to the junction of Trafford Road and Broadway, and possibly a Quays loop road, with the usual `clawback mechanism' in place "should the viability of the development increase in the future"...

Planning fees are used to offset impacts on the city caused by new developments and are used for things like public realm, parks, roads, reducing climate change, training construction workers and more. Two other developments at the Quays to be considered by the planning panel next week will also see meagre returns.

First up is Peel Holdings' - or Peel Land (Intermediate) Ltd scheme for the erection of a six storey office block housing two thousand BUPA staff on the Quays, near to the X1 Media City development, adding to the growing congestion, infrastructure stress and pollution in the area.

The planning officer's report states "The introduction of circa 2000 additional office employees to the area is likely to result in increased use of the public realm and additional vehicle and pedestrian trips, including via public transport"...but concludes that "no financial contributions are appropriate or necessary in respect of the proposed development" because Peel will be adding a few trees, some paved public space and some benches which the company reckons will cost "1,568,485.22 to implement and maintain for 20 years".

The Council also insisted on a traffic-signal controlled public crossing near the block but Peel has offered just 10,000 `to install dropped curbs'.
.
Meanwhile, at the back of the Oasis Academy, Tokenhouse Investments Ltd wants to throw up 300 student flats on the BUPA car park on King William Street, despite it being next to a school and despite Salford Council's own consultants, DTZ, reporting that "that there was already excess capacity of student accommodation in Salford".

The planning officer's report states "that the provision of housing for up to 300 students would have an impact on the public realm near to the site and in particular routes that students would use to reach the university campuses at Peel Park and Media City".

In light of this impact, the developer has agreed to pay a mere 37,500 "towards tree planting along Cross Lane and Howard Street"...


* Based on Salford City Council's Planning Obligations SPD stats for `high density, high value areas' in which 600 flats would produce 21million developer profit.

Luke Davidson wrote
at 20:05:26 on 25 September 2016
BUPA's building is not going to add pollution or congestion at all as they are already situated down there over two buildings

Peel Watch wrote
at 08:51:44 on 29 August 2015
UoS - Salford Quays is not a risky investment, it's an established location and residential values reflect that. Avoidance of planning fees when risk is small and real profits far exceed most other types of investment is a scandal that deserves exposure. The fact that it happens all the time simply reflects the power that financial interests have over the planning system and thereby allowed to ride roughshod over local interests and local democracy.

UoS wrote
at 17:48:28 on 27 August 2015
It is concerning that X1 feel sufficiently confident to market the apartments they plan to sell, before planning permission has even been secured. It implies the permission process is simply a rubber stamp, and at some point along the line, the committee have been 'nobbled' to ensure the right outcome. I am less concerned about the waiving of planning fees. Salford is a risky investment - it has high levels of poverty and low levels of human capital and the developers aim to attract talent from outside. Equally, the Council wish to improve the reputation and prospects of the City so may legitimately be willing to waive fees to secure the development of the City. It is not as sinister as it sounds and happens at local and national level all the time and its purpose is to entice investors into otherwise unattractive areas for investment. The Quays is looking better year on year.

Peel Watch wrote
at 05:49:22 on 27 August 2015
Peel's argument is just laughable. Are they saying that unless they are let off their planning obligations they will have to tell Bupa (with whom they have an agreement to occupy the new building) 'sorry - no can do' and allow them to move into a competing development? Of course they wouldn't! They would just review their procurement, building design and construction approach until the necessary savings were found. That is if you believe all this viability hogwash in the first place. The Council should stand firm and call their bluff.

Tracey wrote
at 13:07:20 on 26 August 2015
Hello haven't all the tower blocks been demolished! so why are they being allowed to build them again the first lot should never have built the "Salford slums could of been refurbished with all the money that has been wasted over the last 50 years - really nice of the council to pull down houses and put kids like myself seven floors up and communities broken up on to different floor levels only time to meet folk was in the lift.

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