Back in March 2016, Euro Car Parks, or ECP Holdings, avoided £1,011,362 in planning fees, according to Salford Star calculations, to plonk 364 unaffordable PRS (Private Rental Sector) apartments, eleven townhouses and commercial space, in three huge blocks ranging from 13 to 22 storeys high, on the car park opposite the Ainscow Hotel and the old Salford Cinema.
ECP should have been paying £1,811,362 in planning fees and Section 106 but Salford City Council agreed that the company should pay just £800,000 plus a 'clawback' arrangement for extra payments should the scheme make huge profits (see previous Salford Star article - click here).
Now ECP is coming back to the Council planning meeting next week, offering to pay just £700,000, with no clawback arrangement at all.
Council planning officers state in a report to councillors that "the applicant has submitted information to demonstrate that this previously agreed level of financial contribution together with a requirement for clawback can no longer be delivered in financial viability terms. As such, the developer has made a revised offer in terms of a financial contribution of £700,000...."
The company has made a few changes to the design which include swapping concrete cladding for aluminium composite panels (!!! See Salford Star article - click here), removing basement car parking, a couple of changes to the commercial space, and some slight alterations to the apartments. But it's still the same number of PRS flats.
Apparently the Council's consultant surveyor has reviewed it all and "considers that the submitted information represents a reasonable reflection of the financial viability of the scheme"...He "recommends that the revised offer of £700,000 with no clawback provision is justified in relation to this specific scheme..."
If this wasn't bad enough, there's another sting in the tail for Salford residents, who could end up covering the missing £100,000 for work that should have been done around the luxury apartment site with the developer's money...
"The previously agreed contribution was to be directed towards improvements to the Trinity Way/Chapel Street junction and public realm works to create a pedestrian and cycle route through the adjacent railway arches towards the New Bailey area" states the officer's report "The reduction in the value of the planning obligation contribution would mean that the scheme makes a reduced contribution to the value of these identified works.
"...It must be recognised that the previously agreed £800,000 contribution would itself fall below the total value of the required works, and as such (without a substantial revision to the extent of the proposed works) would require additional funding to be secured from other sources in order to deliver these works."
Nevertheless, the officer concludes that "It is considered that on balance, the benefits of the scheme would outweigh the harm associated with this reduction in the value of the financial contribution..."