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SALFORD CITY COUNCIL CONSULTS ON ITS SHOCKING PLANNING POLICIES
 

Star date: 12th March 2018

SALFORD COUNCIL PLANS TO 'REVIEW' ITS DEVELOPER-FRIENDLY POLICIES

Salford Council is finally to 'review' its developer friendly policies, which have seen millions of pounds and thousands of affordable houses lost to the city...

"There has...been increasing public interest in the processes around planning obligations" understates the Council. The consultation runs until 6th April, although it's being kept rather quiet.

Full details here...


"How can the transparency of the financial viability appraisal process for individual planning applications be maximised in order to maintain public confidence in the system?" Salford Council


Ever since Salford Council's horribly named Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning Document, or SPD, was introduced in 2015, developers have been laughing all the way to the bank.

While the Government's equally horribly named National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), allowed developers to avoid paying planning fees if their profits weren't big enough, Salford Council's own SPD ripped up any obligations for developers to pay fees or provide affordable housing in certain schemes and in certain areas of the city.

The Salford Star went into huge detail about this in print issue 10*, showing how over £19million and almost one thousand affordable houses had been lost by developers exploiting both the NPPF and the SPD. That figure has since grown to around £50million and over two thousand affordable houses.**

According to Salford Council's SPD, if a developer wanted to build high density apartments (above six storeys) in a 'Low/Low to Mid/Mid or High' value area (covering the whole of Salford, bar the Quays, Worsley and the Greengate area right next to Manchester City Centre), they didn't have to provide any affordable housing at all.

And, via Salford Council's SPD, nor did they have to pay any planning fees, or 'obligations' in 'Low/Low to Mid or Mid' value areas if they were putting up any kind of apartments. All the new apartment blocks in Ordsall and Blackfriars, for instance, are in what was classified as 'Mid or Low Mid' areas.***

Meanwhile, even in areas where the Council could get some kind of Section 106 money or affordable houses, the NPPF provided a handy get-out for developers via 'viability assessments'.

It was, and is, a huge scandal that has filled the Salford Star pages for years, met by a bit of hang wringing from councillors sat on the planning panel, and the Mayor pointing the finger at Government, rather than at the Council's own pathetic policies.

Meanwhile, in the background, the scandal has also grown on a national level which culminated last week with the Prime Minister Theresa May finally promising to end "abuse of the 'viability assessment' process" (see previous Salford Star article – click here).

Within three days of that announcement (and the Salford Star article heralding it), Salford Council suddenly, and very quietly, announced a 'consultation' on a 'review' of its shameful SPD policy, hidden away on its website...

"There have been significant changes to development economics and some of
the housing markets within Salford since the current SPD was adopted, and so the review will need to assess factors such as land values, house prices and the cost of building new homes" a letter to interested parties states (click here)

"There has also been increasing public interest in the processes around planning obligations" it understated "particularly the viability appraisal process through which developers may seek lower contributions than would normally be required by the SPD policies."

The letter asks for comments 'which will assist us in informing the review of the SPD'...

1) Which aspects of the current SPD should be retained or amended?
2) Are there any problems with the implementation of the current SPD?
3) Are the current priorities in the SPD appropriate; that is, affordable housing, open space, primary school places, transport, and public realm?

The fourth question asks "How can the transparency of the financial viability appraisal process for individual planning applications be maximised in order to maintain public confidence in the system?"

...This when the Council has been systematically blocking publication of 'viability assessments', even when requested to reveal them under the Freedom of Information Act (see here).

Back in 2015, even developer Barrett Homes stated during the previous SPD consultation"We note the Council has supported residential developments based upon viability to support a reduced contribution, and this can be met with local political and community unease".

As the Star has pointed out many times, by the time Salford Council gets around to 'reviewing' and possibly changing its scandalous SPD policy there won't be a scrap of land left in central Salford that hasn't already got planning permission under its old developer-friendly regime. Bolting horses and stable doors still come to mind – with, as usual, no-one at Salford Council being held to account.

Something for Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, to mull this week while he's in the South of France at the property orgy MIPIM...


*See electronic version of Salford Star print issue 10 – click here

See related previous Salford Star articles...

**Salford Mayor Asks 'What Is Going On' as £42million Planning Avoidance Hits - click here

***No Affordable Housing In Ordsall – click here and click here

For more, put the words 'viability assessment' into the Salford Star search engine at the top of the front page




Brianfkirkham wrote
at 12:11:06 on 19 March 2018
Booths predicament is more to do with footfall and its landlords than anything to do with austerity. Nice idea letting mediacity residents having access to a high end food store but if the rents going up and you aren’t making the sales, what are you going to do? Of course, the landlord will be doing its best to maintain the relationship with its high end client...move to the outlet on the cards perhaps?
 
Salford Doomed wrote
at 09:55:07 on 19 March 2018
Latest. Booths at MediaCityUK is closing upstairs in two weeks. End of fresh meat and fish counter. Reduced shopping lines but will keep hot food as currently in ground floor. Blames high cost rent and rates along with posh residents and BBC staff suffering austerity. Has Salford Quays magical bubble burst with a record number of empty properties.
 
Alice wrote
at 14:41:50 on 12 March 2018
I see the MEN has a report on the Manchester Council's behaviour of .'bowing down' to the Developers wanting to build 40 storey high rises with luxury apartments. This Council also has let them off the 106 contribution as well as ignoring the opinions of residents. The Salford Star has been reporting this scandal for at least two years. The latest high rise monstrosities are just on the edge of Salford, at the start of Chapet Street. Stand near the Cathedral and look over the river and the sky line is now darkened my these soulless buildings. Obviously this is siting is to blur the division of the two cities. I guess there is some collusion because the Councils have the same agenda. We need some angry and powerful criticisms inside both Councils.
 
Felsey wrote
at 14:41:47 on 12 March 2018
At last we are getting Salford Council to sit up. In 2012 when I stood in the Mayor election people recall my finance plan to cut Council Tax by 50%. Since then £198million was taken by Government (as told in our Council Tax bills last week). To have given £198million back as I had planned, the Tory Westminster could not have pulled it. Yes? On top of the 50% cut that I planned for the last 6 years which would have seen every Salford home save £3000 I estimate £800millon extra cash was able to become pulled into Salford Council. No wonder they are now looking closer at the planning losses. They may not understand my high level financial skills but I do think a simple sorry by Salford Council is overdue to the 93.3% local people who would each be £3000 better off that recently did not vote Labour.
 
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