When Keith Lemon goes Through The Keyhole at celebs' houses he always finds a Buddha, points and goes 'Standard'. When the Salford Star goes through the keyhole looking at the latest planning applications for the city, we always find crying developers who point to the 'viability' of their schemes and state there won't be enough profit if they had to cough up the fees. This is now 'Standard'...
...'Standard' to the tune of over £40million lost to the city in planning fees and over one thousand affordable properties...
First we go through the planning keyhole at Erie Basin on Salford Quays, where Glenbrook SQ Limited has an application for 270 unaffordable Private Rent Sector apartments on Salford Quays in two blocks 16 storeys high.
The Salford Star estimates, based on Salford Council's own figures, that the planning fees should be £1,304,181. Glenbrook is proposing to pay just £500,000, due to `viability'. Standard.
And the Council agrees, stating in the planning report that its "consultant surveyors have undertaken a review of the applicant's submitted viability evidence and consider that the scheme would be unable to support the full level of contributions required and remain viable..."
Glenbrook won't actually be paying the full £500,000 in cash, as it will be providing a 'dockside walkway' which it values at £184,000. The other £316,000 will go towards enhancing public space near its development.
Normally, the Council insists on a 'clawback' agreement whereas if the development does make huge profits it can reclaim some money – but here, for some reason, there's no clawback agreement at all if development starts within three months of the planning permission being granted. On this development the city loses £804,181. 'Standard'.
Over in Little Hulton, on the former site of Our Lady The Lancashire Martyrs School on Wicheaves Crescent, Countryside Properties (UK) Ltd and Sigma Capital Group are planning to throw up 73 two, three and four bedroom houses for sale at market rates.
As it's a 'low value' area, there is no requirement for affordable housing as part of the scheme – but there is a requirement for planning contributions, which the Star estimates, based on Council figures, as £692,308. However the Council planning report states that "The applicant 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."
Instead, Countryside and Sigma will pay just £35,000 towards the renovation of a kids' playground in the local Peel Park. And, again, there will be no clawback agreement if the development commences within twelve months. A loss to the city of £657,308. 'Standard'.
And, opposite Pendleton Church, the stunning Pendleton House, built in 1936 and once home to the Citizens' Advice Bureau and a much needed Walk-In Clinic, will now have a six storey extension on the car park and be converted into 71 unaffordable flats by developer, Endeavour .
Over eighty residents have submitted objections to the scheme including that the height and design of the building is not in keeping with the area; the loss of daylight, loss of privacy and insufficient parking.
Here there will be no fees payable at all, thanks to the Council's cocked up planning obligation 'SPD' which it brought in less than two years ago. According to this failed and ridiculous document (which the Council plans to overhaul in 2019!) developers building apartments in 'mid/low value' areas don't have to provide any affordable housing, nor pay any Section 106 contributions at all.
Meanwhile, what's left of the old Hope High School site is planning to be developed by Bellway Homes into 64 three and four bedroom houses. For a change, the developer is paying the full Section 106 contribution of £908,024 - £362,392 education contribution towards St Luke's CofE Primary School, £335,934 for off site affordable housing, and £209,698 towards 'open space'.
The £209,698 will go "towards the regeneration and improved access to the historic core of Buile Hill Park including the area of Buile Hill Mansion, the former depot buildings and conservatory".
The money could be for tarting up the entrance to the Mansion to make it more attractive to prospective developers – or it could be towards helping a community bid for the Mansion by Salford Red Devils Foundation and The Sounds of Salford radio station.
In February, the Salford Star reported that, despite a community interest bid going in for the Mansion over five months ago nothing had been heard since (see here). After the article, Urban Vision got in touch with the bid organisers and offered a meeting – but, again, it's all gone quiet...
"Three weeks ago they said they will be in touch but we've still not heard anything" explains Simon Williams from The Sounds of Salford "Surely an email from Urban Vision isn't that hard to write?"
Next week, Salford City Council councillors will be mulling over all these applications – but it looks like, yet again, the only winners will be developers. Standard.