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.