£80,000 less is being invested on Chorley's open spaces after housing developer says its costs aren't 'viable'

Illustrative plans for the housing development
Illustrative plans for the housing development
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A housing developer is set to contribute more than £80,000 less towards open space as part of a long-running saga to build dozens of new homes.

Redrow Homes was given the green light by Chorley Council to build up to 83 homes in Whittle-Le-Woods back in February 2014.

The plot of land next to the M61 where the homes will be built

The plot of land next to the M61 where the homes will be built

As part of the agreement the developer was told it had to provide 30 per cent affordable housing, pay £1,748 per house towards public open space, and a further £140 per house for open space that was to be provided off-site.

This would have meant a contribution of more than £140,000.

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But this agreement was never signed off by Redrow's legal team, leaving the matter unresolved.

Now, five years later, it has come to light that the company is set to proceed with the development – reducing the number of houses to 53 – set for land with Town Lane to the north, Lucas Lane to the west, and the M61 to the east.

Redrow has now told council planning officers that the development under these terms “is not viable” – leaving the company with, it says, no incentive to deliver the scheme.

As a result the council investigated the matter and agreed with Redrow on its concerns.

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Contributions of £134 per house towards open space and affording housing provision of 26 per cent – or 14 homes – have now been decided upon as an alternative.

Under the new revised figures, public space contributions have been reduced from around £92,000 to around £7,000.

Planning officers have recommended that the council’s planning committee approve the altered scheme at Tuesday's meeting (September 10).

Chorley Coun Alistair Morwood, executive member at Chorley Council, said: “Whenever an application is considered by our officers their recommendations are made against a framework of plans and policies.

“In this particular case the applicant has raised concerns about the obligations they’d have to fulfil for an application of this nature and in putting together the report for committee the case put forward by the applicant has been accepted by officers.

“There has been no change in policy - but when considering whether this development is acceptable or not, our officers will look at individual circumstances, have the information independently scrutinised and balance the benefits of a development against criteria.

“As with any application that goes to the planning committee it will be considered by councillors and they will take a decision as to whether to approve the development or not on Tuesday night.”

Matt Grayson, for Redrow, said: “As a result of technical challenges presented by the topography of the Whittle-le-Woods site, we have reduced the total number of properties to be built to 53, which is 30 fewer than originally planned and subject to a separate detailed planning application.

"Extensive earthworks and under-build are required in order to develop the land and for this reason we have requested some modest flexibility with regard to affordable housing.

"That said, the development will still deliver 14 affordable homes on-site, which equates to a 26 per cent provision based on the submitted scheme. The type of affordable housing was negotiated with Council officers and will deliver two and three-bedroom houses for social rent.

“Our scheme, which also includes 39 three and four-bedroom private sales homes, will contribute very significantly towards the provision of infrastructure through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)."

CIL is a charge, represented as £ per m², on the amount of new floor space created by development.

The revenue raised by CIL is to be used for community infrastructure that is required across an area to support population growth.

Infrastructure which can be funded by the levy includes schools, transport, flood defenses, hospitals, community facilities and other health and social care facilities

Mr Grayson added: “The CIL charge will be over £700,000 based on 53 houses and that payment will be used to provide a variety of new infrastructure, including improvements to local transport, schools, sport and recreation, plus new green space.

“As a business, each individual development we deliver does need to be financially viable and, without these changes, this particular scheme would be unviable and the benefits which will be created would not be achieved.”