Posted by: westlancashirerecord | July 26, 2017

Do New Homes Bonus And CIL Masquerade As Housing Developer Bungs?

If the residents of an area of West Lancashire were to read about an application to build 124 houses on land that is located “within land specifically safeguarded from development in the legal Local Plan ” they might feel aggrieved. And if the same application dishonestly claimed a shortfall in borough housing land supply of which the opposite is proven, they might feel angry. And if that same application was recommended for approval based on “The Local Planning Authority considers that the proposal complies with the relevant Policy criteria and is acceptable in the context of all relevant material considerations as set out in the Officer’s Report” they might cry foul! As they have done!

In a planning case put forward for “Land to the North Of Meadowbrook Burscough ” the local campaigning Burscough Flooding Group objects to the inevitable risk of more foul and effluent sewage in Burscough and that the land is specifically safeguarded from development.

But the inclusion in the application of “Financial benefits in the form of New Homes Bonus which would equate to approximately £880,000” [Bloor Homes states £700,000 as the NHB amount] and “The development is also CIL liable and would require a CIL payment in the region of £1,400,000 with the affordable housing potentially eligible for social housing relief” is worthy of suspicion. The applicant is also “proposing to make a financial contribution of £50,000 towards the signalisation and widening of the A59/Square Lane junction” all tending towards what residents believe to be developer sweeteners or bungs.

The planning committee papers state “Consistent with NPPF’s approach, the adopted Local Plan allocated a significant amount of land at Yew Tree Farm as a strategic development site to deliver a mixed residential and employment-led development. The site falls within the strategic development site; however, it is located within land specifically safeguarded from development under Policies SP3 and GN2 of the Local Plan.

The applicant “makes the case that the West Lancashire Local Plan is out of date in respect of the provision of a five year housing land supply and this reduces the weight which can be afforded to Policy SP3. The applicant also considers that the development is only contrary to that part of Policy SP3 that relates to the phasing of development as part of the Masterplan, rather than the principle of development at the site. The applicant goes on to consider that because the Council does not have a 5 year supply of housing, the application should be considered against the presumption in favour of sustainable development and this site is sustainable. In addition, the applicant considers that the proposed development would not prejudice the Yew Tree Farm Masterplan as it would not prevent the remainder of the site coming forward for the identified development, so there is no “harm” caused”.

The applicant “sets out why it is considered the Council does not have a five year housing land supply and indicates specifically that, in their view, the supply would be 2.99 years with a 5% buffer, or 2.62 years with a 20% buffer. The Director of Development and Regeneration disagrees with this view. “Whilst it is noted that the applicant has provided a detailed housing land supply assessment, the position that has been taken (in May 2016) was based upon the five year period 2015-2020. This was done in order to compare the figures attributed to the Council’s Annual Monitoring Report (AMR) 2015, which covered the same period, but was published in June 2015, nearly a full year earlier. Whilst I have no criticism of this approach, I must consider the most up to date available data in assessing the submitted application. The Council has just published the AMR 2017, which includes the up to date position on housing completions to 31st March 2017 and the housing land supply position for 2017-2022. The Council‟s housing land requirement (including a 5% buffer) for 2017-2022 is 2,027 dwellings. After full analysis of housing land supply on a site by site basis, the total supply (net) of new housing over the period 2017-2022 is forecast to be 2,155 dwellings. This means that West Lancashire has 5.32 years of supply”.

Yet more developer bungs include “A more detailed Travel Plan is required by condition and a commuted sum of £6,000 required to enable LCC to monitor and provide advice on the Travel Plan. A commuted sum of £128,000 is required to facilitate the provision of buses to the site. A commuted sum of £254 per unit for 5 years is required to support delivery of personalised travel plan measures such as a contribution towards a bicycle and mega-rider bus tickets”.

The Campaign To Protect Rural England (CPRE)  West Lancashire District Group (23.06.2016) suggests “The release of safeguarded land at this stage in the Local Plan period would not comply with the NPPF and would fundamentally undermine the Local Plan. There is a need for a flood risk and drainage strategy to ensure the development will be safe for its lifetime without increasing flood risk elsewhere”.

Burscough Parish Council “Objects for the following reasons: Access off Meadowbrook directly onto A59 is in conflict with Master Plan; Lack of highway capacity and unsuitable narrow roads and pavements in vicinity; Air quality at Square Lane junction should be assessed; Contravention of Master Plan, this site is safeguarded for development if required, after 2027 and Master Plan will be undermined if approved; No evidence that additional housing required; Would produce fragmented development with no connectivity across the site; Impact on drainage, flood risk and sewage; Provides no contribution to infrastructure, poor amenity and open space; Appropriate community space should be provided; Doesn‟t enhance quality of built environment in Burscough”.

As with all such “rogue” development proposals whereby the developer ignores a legal Local Plan in pursuit of profits the campaigners are incensed enough to make their feelings known. They suggest “the Planning Portfolio holder hasn’t responded to recent emails and they therefore make the same request again with a reminder that a response would be helpful before the borough council planning meeting to decide the Meadowbrook application takes place 7.30 pm this Thursday 27th July”.

They ask what is going on in the Borough Council, since they understand that during a meeting with Burscough Flooding Group the Labour party was looking at putting part of the enormous Yew Tree Farm site back into greenbelt.

They would like an explanation of why Meadowbrook is being recommended to be approved, given that it is not part of this local plan period, and they ask specifically “If it doesn’t put any value in protecting the local plan then why did the Labour party risk a fortune of ratepayers’ money to protect the amenity of Parrs Lane residents against developers, because Parrs Lane development wasn’t part of this local plan period?”

Burscough residents are not only going to lose their amenity but are also going to suffer from additional regular sewer and surface water flooding as a result of the Meadowbrook development, because it contravenes the special drainage conditions within the Master Plan. They ask “Is there a rational explanation for the continuing poor planning decisions being made by WLBC and might you be willing to share it with Burscough’s residents, voters and council tax payers?”

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