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SALFORD COUNCIL SET TO WAIVE £1.5M FOR COUNTRYSIDE PROPERTIES PLANNING FEES
 

Star date: 13th February 2015

PLANNING SCANDAL CONTINUES AS COUNTRYSIDE SET TO AVOID £1.5M FEES

Having called it a `public scandal' less than a month ago, Salford Council is set to waive another £1.5million in planning fees for 147 new unaffordable houses in Lower Broughton being proposed by Countryside Properties on Meadow Road and off Tenerife Street.

Countryside is avoiding the fees by using the loophole that the scheme won't be `viable' if it is has to pay the Council, in line with virtually every single major planning application that has come before the planning panel recently.

Full details here...


The Meadows
click image to enlarge

The amounts of planning obligation money being lost to Salford is mounting up yet again, just weeks after councillors called it a `public scandal' and the Salford Star calculated a figure of around £20million (see previous Salford Star article – click here).

The latest planning proposals that are set to see over £1.5million in planning fees waived are for two housing development schemes in Lower Broughton by Countryside Properties, which will be discussed at the planning panel next week, with officers recommending approval.

The first is for 93 three and four bedroom houses in Meadow Road, on the site of the former University Meadows Campus right by the banks of the River Irwell with lovely views.

The planning report shows that Countryside should be paying a total of £1,226,341.46 (Open Space £463,450; Public Realm, infrastructure and heritage £271,500; Construction Training £27,150; Climate Change £36,200 and Education £428,041.46)...

The report notes that there will be "increased pressure on existing primary school provision", and that the "significant number of additional residents" would "create more intensive use of existing open space facilities in the vicinity of the site, creating increased wear and tear that would result in the need for additional maintenance and refurbishment"...

...However, "the applicant has undertaken an appraisal of the viability of the development and this shows that if a commuted sum is sought from the scheme, it would render the scheme entirely unviable..."

So Countryside is proposing to pay absolutely nothing, with only a `claw back' agreement in place for the future, while proposing no affordable housing, even though this should make up 19 houses on the development (20%) to help alleviate what the report calls a "high level of affordable housing need".

Countryside Properties has already had £millions in public subsidies for the `redevelopment' of what it calls `New Broughton' (see previous Salford Star article – click here), which has seen affordable housing replaced by unaffordable housing and what many regard as the `social cleansing' of the area.

"The proposals will build on the successful work achieved in earlier phases and help to realise long-standing aspirations for the area" state the planning officers.

Meanwhile, the application is also running ragged over Salford's ecological policies, with the development's boundary extending into The Meadows itself, the so-called `green lung' in the city. The planners report states that "Although development of land east of Meadow Road would be in conflict with the objectives of saved Policy R4, the wider benefits of the development are considered to outweigh the loss."

The Countryside houses will be located in Flood Zones 2 and 3, and within, what the report calls, "a critical drainage area". It adds that the scheme "is not technically in compliance with Flood Risk and Development Planning Guidance Policy FRD5" but "the LPA are satisfied that the proposals are within the spirit, if not the letter, of policy FRD5 and that it would not be appropriate to insist on strict volumetric balancing as part of these proposals."

The report also notes that a "large number of the recorded trees are proposed for removal", including one group of `category A trees'. Yet there's no Tree Protection Plan in place yet, and, while felled trees are normally replaced by a 2:1 ratio, in this case a 1:1 basis "is considered more realistic". Meanwhile as the site is cleared, the report states that there will be "reasonable avoidance measures" used to try and protect the toads, bats, smooth newts and hedgehogs that will no doubt be de-homed.

"In light of the above" the report concludes "it is considered that the development would not have a detrimental or irreversible impact on ecology therefore the proposal is considered to be acceptable in this regard."

The second Countryside Properties application is for 54 two and three bedroom houses off Tenerife Street near Great Clowes Street. Again, 20%, or 11, of the units should be for affordable housing, while there should be planning fees of £296,872.02 (Open Space £113,022; Public Realm, infrastructure and heritage £81,000; Construction Training £8,100; Climate Change £10,800 and Education £83,950.02) – but Countryside are not even proposing to pay the 2p, only to enter into a `claw back' agreement should their profits be excessive.


* See also previous Salford Star article - Salford Council refuses to reveal planning viability figures under Freedom of Information - click here


Graphic by Steven Speed

Salford Lad wrote
at 08:24:32 on 15 February 2015
It is time for precious greenspaces to be ring-fenced for conservation and no development, in Salford and on a wider scale ! Why not concentrate on the housing and flats that we already have ? Or does that not fit in with the narrow agendas that developers, "business leaders" and Neo-liberal politicians have ? SAVE THE MEADOWS !
 
Anon wrote
at 14:41:32 on 14 February 2015
I think at the very least, the council should be clear what viability actually means. Exactly what %age profit is needed to persuade developers to build in salford rather than elsewhere. 10%? 15%? 20% 25%? And we still have no detail on the assumptions that underpin these viability assessments. Oh to be a fly on the wall in Urban Vision's offices in Eccles.
 
marianne wrote
at 13:12:38 on 14 February 2015
They re digging up peel park soon for more university student digs ?? Or am i wrong??
 
Michael F in Felse wrote
at 13:12:15 on 14 February 2015
We must accept that not all areas are going to be viable attractions for builders. With the upward image of SalFord taking bite let us be pleased and thankful these developers for gambling their money into Salford. It all goes to show Salford's future is excellent.
 
Not viable wrote
at 20:07:31 on 13 February 2015
The council should tell the developers that it is sorry that the schemes are not viable and that they look forward seeing plans for a "Viable" scheme from Countryside or some other developer in the near future.
 
The Fat End of The Wedge wrote
at 20:07:26 on 13 February 2015
"the wider benefits of the development are considered to outweigh the loss" - what benefits? Oh, they must mean the developers! "large number of the recorded trees are proposed for removal" - another development leading to the destruction of mature trees. Remember the 100+ that went for Tesco Pendleton? And many others have fallen for other central Salford development. Tree replacement is with young trees, which take many years to mature, assuming they survive - thus not much living space for wildlife for a bit. Also, with pollution levels as they are (and increasing through development), trees should be considered a very important health resource. Mature trees should be left as they are AND fresh should be planted in every available spot. Our councils and government are so very short sighted. Anybody watch 'The Super Rich and Us' on Beeb recently? There was a clip of an event where councils from around Britain were queueing up to sell off their land to foreign property investors - didn't see Salford, but just shows its happening everywhere - short term gain, extremely long term pain.
 
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