For many, many reasons, the 11 storey block of 108 apartments that social housing company Salix Homes wants to erect in the grounds of Canon Green Court and Westminster House is controversial.
Today, most of these controversies were aired at the planning meeting of Salford Council, before councillors deferred any decision pending further information.
Councillor Peter Wheeler stroked the elephant in the Council's room – namely that Salix Homes won a vote to transfer Council housing stock to itself with the promise that it would bring all its properties up to a decent standard, including the damp infested Canon Green Court.
Just a few years later, Salix is stating that it can't afford to refurbish these flats unless it can build this huge add-on block to raise finance... "There was no mention of that when the vote was taking place" said an incredulous Councillor Wheeler.
A tenant of Canon Green, Neil Mucklow, raised concerns about the consultation process saying there were "multiple questions not answered", including the affect on infrastructure, changes to the plans which saw the height of the block raised from nine to eleven storeys, and guarantees that existing tenants' services wouldn't be impacted by the build...
"People want transparency" he said, adding that they also wanted "more meaningful consultations".
In response, Phil Summers, from Salix, explained that there would be "Further Q and A sessions with residents" and stressed that there would be "108 affordable units which would address people getting onto the housing ladder".
However, the definition of these 'affordable units' was stretched to the max, as a huge screened presentation behind him showed that the 'affordable units' were not for local families..."Target market – young professionals" it stated.
Indeed, the flats were all one and two bedroom apartments, a point stressed by panel chair, Councillor Ray Mashiter... "There's no three bedroom homes" he said.
The apartments would be available at 80% of market rent for two years and tenants could buy them in year five. For this, Salix escaped tens of thousands of pounds in Section 106 payments for things like public realm, open space and transport infrastructure which, the company argued, would make the scheme 'unviable'...
"...It is recognised that the applicant has demonstrated that in not providing contributions towards open space and public realm improvements that are able to deliver a development that comprises entirely of affordable housing, that exceeds the affordable housing requirements for apartment schemes in this part of the City by 100%" stated the planning officer's report.
Other objections included that there were only nine parking spaces for over one hundred properties, while Dan Murphy, representing the nearby Stay Inn hotel, raised the issue of the impact on the neighbourhood which would be to the "detriment of the street scene" and his own company's plans to improve pedestrian connectivity.
Councillor Mashiter also questioned the impact of the scheme on residents' amenities and the current green space. He moved that the decision be deferred as "I don't have enough information to make a decision". This was carried unanimously as it looks like Salix is having to go back to the drawing board...
For a full background see previous Salford Star article – click here.
At the same meeting, councillors kicked off about Section 106 payments, so-called 'clawback' arrangements and lack of affordable housing on two other applications – but were told that they were there to apply Council policy not to question it! Full report to follow...