£2.6m of development cash waiting to be spent in Preston

Coun John Swindells
Coun John Swindells
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  • Figures show £2.6m of the funding pledged by developers remains unspent in the Preston area
  • £262,000 for highways from Sainsbury’s for junction improvement work at Sir Tom Finney Way
  • £198k from various projects for affordable housing
  • £350,000 from the Morrisons build next to West View leisure centre for cycle paths
  • £941,874 received from the Homes and Communities Agency for projects including access roads at the Cottam brickworks
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Cycle paths, junction improvements and access roads are among the projects still in the pipeline which will be paid for by Section 106 cash.

Figures published under the Freedom of Information Act, show £2.6m of the funding pledged by developers remains unspent in the Preston area.

Paul Walton

Paul Walton

Coun John Swindells, deputy city council leader, said: “The figure is there when planning permission is agreed, but we don’t get it until either a certain number of houses are finished or something like the Morrisons development is finished. So although it’s there on paper, it’s not there in practice.

“Some of the schemes have never got off the ground, some are starting to come off the ground.

Coun Swindells said each contribution was for a specific project, and couldn’t be used for anything else.

He said: “It’s very specific and they have to provide the project or the money for us to provide it. Section 106 monies normally alleviate the problems caused by developments, make it look better, or add something to the community for allowing the development to take place.”

The figure is there when planning permission is agreed, but we don’t get it until either a certain number of houses are finished or something like the Morrisons development is finished. So although it’s there on paper, it’s not there in practice

Coun John Swindells

Projects paid for through Section 106 cash include the Grimsargh cycle route, the play area within Ashton Park and a residential alleygating scheme in Ashton.

Unspent cash includes :

• £262,000 from 2010/11 for highways from Sainsbury’s for the junction improvement work at Sir Tom Finney Way as part of the store’s extension;

• £198k given in 2011/12 from various projects for affordable housing. Council bosses say they are “looking at options” across the city;

• Atotal of £350,000 in 2013/14 from the Morrisons build next to West View leisure centre for cycle paths. It will be spent on upgrading footpaths to accommodate cycle paths at Ribbleton Lane, Skeffington Road, and others in the area;

• In 2014/15, £941,874 received from the Homes and Communities Agency for projects including access roads at the Cottam brickworks site.

One payment was returned to the developer for £43,215 in 2010. The council said that, under the agreement, the developer was entitled to a percentage of the contribution back.

Figures seen by the Lancashire Evening Post following an FOI request also showed that there was almost £1.4m unspent at the end of March in 2008.

Paul Walton, director of Preston-based PWA Planning, said: “When planning permission is granted, the Section 106 contributions are only triggered by an event which is often commencement of development. If the development doesn’t start, the money won’t be paid.”

He said developers often tried to push the payment back until the project was further on, and added: “Typically, there will be a 10-year period in which the money can be spent and then it goes back to the original developer.”

He said: “It’s in the interest of the developer to delay it as long as possible until they have got revenue coming in.

“Most developers understand and build in the cost of 106, but their perspective is it should be staggered further down the line when the development is started or completed. The council wants the money, but the developers need to ensure they have got a revenue stream to fund it.”

A Preston Council spokesman said: “Developers investing in new schemes across the city often set aside an extra amount of money to help with infrastructure, transport or a community project. This money is a Section 106 agreement.

“Since 2008 there have been a number of these agreements in Preston. A good portion of the money is spent on roads and access routes to the developments. From one project, money has been allocated for a community facility in the New Hall Lane area of the city.

“Section 106 money is held in accounts by Preston Council, in some cases for a number of years, until the project is complete or the relevant part of the project is ready to be carried out.”