Tomorrow, Salford City Council planning panel will meet to consider giving outline permission for Hampstead Investments Ltd to build up to 92 unaffordable houses on an employment site at Clifton Business Park, on Wynne Avenue.
In line with virtually every single planning application that comes before the panel, this developer is again pleading that the scheme would not be `viable' if it had to pay full planning fees for things like open space, education and public realm, to mitigate the effects of its housing estate.
According to Salford City Council's own figures, Hampstead Investments should be paying £909,890 to plonk 92 houses in a mid/low value area. The Council has accepted a figure of just £465,000 – meaning the developer has avoided almost £445,000...
"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 a Council planning officer's report.
"...The applicant's viability appraisal has been reviewed by the City Council's surveying consultants and a contribution of £465,000 has been agreed" they add.
According to Salford Council's own tables, this developer will be allowed to make around £4million profit as part of the costs on the scheme which make it `unviable'.
The developer should also be setting aside 10% of the 92 houses its proposing to build for nine affordable houses, in line with Salford Council's official policy. But they won't be doing this either...
"Hampstead Investments are of the view that due to the considerable abnormal costs associated with bringing this site forward, it will not be possible to deliver affordable housing on the site" the developer states in its Planning Supporting Statement, apparently accepted by the Council.
Instead, any payments towards affordable housing, off-site, will be possibly made via a `clawback' arrangement should the scheme make more money than it showed in its `viability assessment'.
Salford people must be asking themselves by now, with the Salford Star estimating a loss of planning fees to the city of over £42million*, plus over one thousand affordable houses, just why this situation is continuing.
It's partly to do with Tory Government planning rules, and partly to do with Salford Council's pathetic `Supplementary Planning' policy, brought in a few years ago that shows in certain areas developers don't have to provide any affordable housing or planning fees. Salford Council is now planning to change its useless policy in 2019 – by which time the developers' profit horse will have well and truly bolted.
*See previous Salford Star article – The £42 Million Planning Scandal – click here