A planning application by Bradley Manor Limited to build a huge block of 104 apartments in Greengate perfectly illustrates how Salford Council's own policy has contributed to the loss of well over one thousand affordable homes over recent years.
The block, ranging in size from seven to 14 storeys high between King Street and Queen Street, is in a 'high value' area and is classed as 'high density' (over six storeys), which means that, thanks to the Council's current SPD (Supplementary Planning Document), the developer doesn't have to provide any affordable housing at all.
The application, due to be discussed at next week's Planning Panel of councillors, states that "Contributions towards affordable housing and education are not required on site".
It was only a few days ago that the Council published its proposal for a revised SPD, to enforce a minimum of 20% affordable housing for developments, which would, for this site, provide at least twenty affordable homes. But this doesn't come into force for two and a half years.*
"...there has been widespread public concern about the low proportion of affordable homes that have been delivered in private sector developments and, in particular, the large number of schemes that have provided no affordable housing at all" the report on the new SPD proposals sighed. But for three years, the Council has been in denial that its own policies have partly caused the lack of affordable housing in the city.
Instead, the applicant for the Greengate block will cough up £468,000 (£4,500 per apartment) for public realm plus £6,700 for bus and tram tickets and/or bicycle coupons (£5,700) for its own potential residents and £1,000 worth of 'marketing materials'..."to effectively market the availability of sustainable transport options and encourage their use". There will be no 'clawback' clause so that if the developer's profits are huge they have to pay more.
Meanwhile, the plonking of such a huge block in the middle of a quaint area has met with objections from the renowned Blueprint Studio, arguing that the scale of the building is excessive, that it will 'reduce daylight' to its artist's space, and there will be noise going both ways, from its studios to the residents and vice versa during building work.
Residents of Spectrum apartments have objected on the grounds that "The development represents the further proliferation of apartment buildings in this area. Such buildings are not representative of the historic character of Greengate; The impact of the development upon local heritage assets, including Blueprint Studios, Eagle Inn and the Former Public Baths; The impact of the development upon the viability of surrounding businesses, including Blueprint Studios and Eagle Inn" plus the impact on the infrastructure and the wellbeing of existing residents. The owner of 55 Queen Street has also objected that it will undermine the potential development of their own site.
The Council officer's response is 'tough'..."Whilst it is important to safeguard the operations of Blueprint Studios and Eagle Inn, it must also be recognised that in accordance with the Strategy the prevailing land use character of this area is changing..." ...With no affordable housing until 2021 at the earliest, by which time, of course, every scrap of land will already have planning permission...
* For more background see previous Salford Star article on Salford Council's Draft Revised SPD – click here
Main graphic by ace artist Andy Smith.