On Thursday, Salford City Council's planning panel will consider two applications for 735 properties, none of which have any affordable housing requirements, despite a chronic shortage in the city.
First up is an application by Forshaw Land and Property Group for building 219 apartments and 13 'duplexes' in three blocks ranging from seven to nine storeys high at Worrall Street in Ordsall on the banks of the River Irwell/Ship Canal.
The developer does not have to provide any affordable housing in relation to the flats thanks, not to the usual 'viability' assessment, but to Salford Council's own policies.
In mid density apartment schemes in mid-value areas in the city, there is "no requirement" for affordable housing. So here, 219 apartments, unaffordable to local people will be built (if planning is passed) with no homes for the community.
Alongside the flats, the developer is also building 13 'duplexes', which are classed as townhouses, and 10% of these should be affordable housing – a grand total of one!
However, Council planning officers have even waived this 'requirement', thanks to a 'viability assessment', which also lets the developer avoid £646,431 in payments for open space, education, public realm and transport, according to Salford Star estimates.
Based on official figures, the developer should be paying £1.154million - but the Council has agreed to accept £507,569, with no 'clawback agreement' should the scheme prove more profitable than its 'viability assessment' states.
The payments will deliver 'for the community' a new bus service between Salford Quays and Manchester City Centre, via Ordsall Lane; money for Open Space and Education Facilities, to be 'delegated to the chair of the planning panel'; some sorting of parking and the 'Lease of a car club vehicle'.
The developer will also create a pedestrian route through the site connecting Dyer Street with Worrall Street and a 'widened river walkway' – even though it will be only four metres wide, half the width that is 'desired' by the Council.
Next up is an application by Select Property Group for two 18 storey and one 16 storey blocks of 503 apartments and commercial units, as a kind of extension to the City Suites block at the back of the Greengate fountains where there is currently a railway viaduct.
Here, again, thanks to Salford Council policy, there's no requirement for affordable housing, and whereas, according to Council figures, the developer should be coughing up £2.43million in planning contributions, officers "have agreed a contribution of £1,250,000" after "A review of the applicant's viability appraisal".
'Viability assessments' take into account the price a developer has paid for the land, which is counted as a 'cost', and the developer's profit which is also counted as a 'cost' in these assessments.
Council figures show that for this type of development – 503 high density units in a high value area – the developer can make £17.5million profit and the scheme will still not be 'viable' in Council eyes.
Two weeks ago, even the Tory Housing Minister said that the 'viability system' was "not working", although he declined to rip up the policy. Meanwhile, for these two schemes, Salford City Council's own policies dictated that there was no provision of affordable housing.
See previous Salford Star article: Shelter Urges End To Planning Evasion – click here
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