This week, Prime Minister Theresa May railed against the "abuse of the 'viability assessment' process" in planning, that has seen thousands of affordable houses lost to help developer profits (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
While the Salford Star has documented this in huge detail, the other side of the coin is Salford City Council's own planning policy which states that in certain areas of the city and for certain schemes, developers don't need to provide any affordable housing at all.
Next week, the Council's planning panel will meet to consider an application by Forshaw Land and Property Group for 180 apartments in three huge blocks up to 21 storeys high on a riverfront site at the back of the Grosvenor Casino, on Derwent Street in Ordsall.
Normally developers would be expected to provide up to 20% affordable housing as part of getting planning permission – but as this site is in what the Council classes as a 'mid-value' area no affordable housing will be provided at all.
The planning report to be judged by councillors next week states "It is noted that the site falls within a mid-value area as defined by the Planning Obligations SPD, as such there is no requirement for apartment schemes in this area to provide for affordable housing".
It's not just in Ordsall apartment schemes where no affordable housing is happening. Salford Star research has also shown that, out of 4,172 apartments and houses that received planning permission in Greengate and Chapel Street, only two affordable houses were provided (see here).
And research of 26 Salford sites published last week by Sheffield University's Jonathan Silver showed that Salford Council's developer friendly policies also led to the loss of 2,194 affordable properties (see here).
Meanwhile, for this latest Ordsall development, according to official Salford Council tables, the developer should be paying around £800,000 in Section 106 money.
However, the Council is asking for only £329,125 to deliver a new bus service between Salford Quays and Manchester City Centre, lease of a car club vehicle, traffic management outside the blocks and a pedestrian walkway through the site.
The developer won't have to pay in cash for the rest of its commitment, or as the Council report states, "In terms of public realm works it is proposed that the applicant is to undertake the works on site in lieu of any financial payment..."
All this, for once, has nothing to do with 'viability assessments' and much to do with Salford Council's own policies...