The Scarborough Group describes Middlewood Locks as a "new residential and commercial neighbourhood at the western gateway to Manchester's Central Business District".
The massive development will include around 2,215 homes, none of which are affordable, and over 750,000 sq ft of offices, a hotel, shops and restaurants. When outline planning permission for the whole lot was agreed by Salford City Council two years ago, the report stated that the development should be contributing £8.362million in planning, or Section 106, obligations – but waived them all "to ensure that the combined total impact does not make a site unviable".
Instead, the Council inserted a `clawback' arrangement in case massive profits were made, and only insisted on a payment of £1.95million that the Council and British Waterways had laid out for the tart-up of the Manchester, Bolton, Bury Canal which runs through the site (a fee agreed with the original developer that went bust). Altogether, £4million of public money was sunk into the Canal from a variety of sources (see here).
Planning permission for the first phase of Middlewoood Locks for 571 unaffordable homes, plus commercial space, was granted last December with no planning fees payable because, the Council stated, it "included significant landscaping works and so was clearly unviable".
This week, Scarborough's joint venture company Fairbriar Developments (Salford) Ltd (of which Chinese developer Hualing Group, and Singaporean investors, Metro Holding, own fifty per cent), is applying for planning permission for 546 unaffordable apartments in blocks of between eight and ten storeys high.
Weirdly, Council planning officers state that "This second phase does not include that landscaping and the Council's surveyors have concluded that subject to final confirmation regarding build costs, the scheme remains such that no contribution is justified."
The officers add that "The Council's surveyors are confident that future residential phases will make a S106 contribution"...
That is lovely, except that, by then, over half of the apartments and commercial space will have already been waved through the planning process with all fees being waived.
These fees are supposed to pay for infrastructure, public realm and other capital projects that help provide facilities for the local community. Right next to Middlewood Locks, elderly residents have complained that Salix Homes won't allow them to have essential mobility scooters in their social rent properties if there's no room to park them. If this is enforced, many will have to ditch their scooters and might become prisoners in their own homes (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
A miniscule amount of the £6million being avoided by Scarborough could potentially sort this problem out. But no-one has either the imagination or will to make it happen, to even insist on a few crumbs upfront from the multi-zillionaires of China, Singapore and the Scarborough group.
Never mind China's Silk Road – this is the new `zilch road' to Salford...
For more background see previous Salford Star article: Salford Council £6million Let Off for Middlewood Locks Developer - click here
Update: 16th December - planning application for Middlewood Locks approved - see Salford star article - click here