After Langworthy Councillor John Warmisham branded Urban Splash a `disgrace' for the state in which it left the site of the upside down houses in Chimney Pot Park (see here), the company led by Tom Bloxham is back in Salford, avoiding planning fees, trashing trees and providing no affordable housing.
Next week, Salford Council's planning panel will consider proposals by Urban Splash for 71 houses and one hundred flats on the prime Springfield Lane site by the River Irwell, off Trinity Way.
This latest proposal is full of the old Urban Splash hype. The 71 terraced houses will be a "new factory built family housing concept" in which customers can choose which rooms are on which level and "the dwellings are brought to site fully finished".
Such a great `concept', however, won't be great enough to fulfil the company's profit margins, it states, if it has to pay planning fees and provide affordable housing. Indeed, Urban Splash explains that it can't possibly pay Section 106 fees of £636,529, or provide affordable housing, "as both these would take the project viability under what is considered a standard developer's return"...
And Salford Council agrees...
"A development of this nature in this part of the City should contribute towards open space and education" the planning report states "There is also a desire for developments in this area to contribute to the public realm improvements. In addition, the SPD would normally require 10% of the units on a scheme of this size and in this location to be affordable.
"The applicants consider that making this contribution would make the scheme
unviable" it adds "...no planning obligations are sought at this stage as they would likely make the development unviable."
Instead, the Council intends adding a claw back agreement so that, should the scheme make mega-bucks for Urban Splash, it would have to pay something "either directed towards the riverside walkway (up to a value of £100,000) or affordable housing". Nobody is holding their breath for that one.
In return for paying nothing, Urban Splash will be building a part-gated community (with gates 2.1metres high) within a flood zone 2 - where "dwellings could be flooded to a depth of 1.1m" - and trashing a massive 365 trees on the site as part of construction, as well as upsetting the schedule one black redstart birdie which has been spotted nesting in the area. Nice.
The Springfield Lane site and its plans have a chequered history... Salford Council first got into the Springfield Lane bed with Urban Splash in 2004 when it officially signed the land over, in the process taking on full responsibility for the "numerous covenants" on the area dating back to the mid 1800s.
In March 2005 Urban Splash paid the Council £250,000 for the land which was supposed to be the first `minimum payment' of each phase of development with a profit share agreement to follow that. Unfortunately this first payment of £250,000 is the only payment that can be traced from US to Salford Council. Indeed, years ago the Salford Star asked the Council if there had been any other payments but it never responded.
In 2005, Urban Splash, following a competition paid for with £12,000 of public money (from NWDA), put in three planning applications for various developments including hundreds of flats (with no affordable housing), retail and commercial spaces plus the infamous `beach'. None got off the ground and, in 2008, Salford Council's legal team stated that Urban Splash was "In breach of the Development Agreement" and that there was an "option to terminate and seek damages".
The site plans later re-surfaced with a proposal for a `wildflower meadow roofed' supermarket, which Urban Splash stated would be "a beautiful addition" to Salford. That plan never reached the check-out either...
* See also previous Salford Star article - The Urban Splash Beach Trip - click here