At this week's Salford Council planning panel, developers are set to, yet again, ride roughshod over the city's housing needs.
Developer De Trafford has submitted an application for 421 apartments in blocks up to 27 storeys high on the site of Navigation House on Furness Quay. In line with Salford Council's own 'SPD' policy, if 'high density' flats are built in a 'high value' area, no affordable housing is required.
This is confirmed by the officer's report going before councillors... "It is noted that the site falls within a high value area as defined by the Planning Obligations SPD" they write "However, given that the development is over six storeys it is deemed to be high density and in accordance with the SPD there is no requirement for high density apartment schemes to provide for affordable housing on the basis of viability..."
The officer does note, however, that the "proposed development is of a size that would impact on the surrounding public realm and therefore a contribution towards public realm is also sought".
'Public Realm' is calculated by a payment of over £1,000 per bed space within the development, with an added bed per space. This development will have 1,112 bed spaces to be calculated, giving a figure in excess of £1.1million...
However, as usual, the developer has submitted a 'viability assessment' which the officer notes will "demonstrate that the scheme would not be financially deliverable if the contribution was too high"...ie, its profits would not be big enough.
Instead, the Council has agreed a contribution of just £100,000, with a 'clawback' clause to pay some more if profits are higher than anticipated. And within the 'Public Realm', thirty trees, including 13 Category B trees, will be trashed.
This one development alone will give a loss to the city of potentially £1million plus around eighty affordable properties (20%) thanks to the Council's ridiculous planning policies.
Meanwhile, the English Cities Fund, or ECf (a partnership of Homes England, Legal and General and Muse Developments, cheer-led by Salford Council), will have its application for 167 apartments and 11 townhouses, next to Islington Park on Chapel Street, considered by the planning panel.
Around a decade ago, the Council set up an agreement with ECf, whereby all Section 106 payments would be superseded by a thing called the Development Trust Account, a mechanism shrouded in secrecy but basically allowing any potential planning payments to cross subsidise other ECf developments in the area. Affordable housing payments come almost last on the list*.
No figures have been produced by Salford Council for what the ECf should be paying for things like public realm, education and heritage, while no affordable housing is being proposed.
The ECf has also submitted an application to build a seven storey office block at New Bailey. Here, there will be no payments, even to the Development Trust Account, for things like transport, public realm and highways, because ECf is putting in some pedestrian pathways and some 'highway work'...
Over in Walkden, Countryside Properties is proposing 302 properties (58 apartments and 244 houses) off Worsley Road North. 148 of the properties will be for private rent, 102 for open market sale, and 52 properties would be for 'affordable rent' and 'shared ownership' via Great Places.
Countryside should be making payments for education, public realm, highways and open space. However the developer will be making a contribution of just £100,000 for highways, while any other contributions will be delegated to a decision by the Assistant Director of Planning and Housing, after a 'viability assessment' has been, er, assessed...
It seems that, while affordable housing is being provided within the outskirts of Salford, there is less and less in central Salford - and it's looking more and more like a deliberate policy...
.* See previous Salford Star article – Not A Penny Back from ECf - click here