Telford housing development set to escape £100,000 play area and school requirements

A legal agreement to secure nearly £100,000 towards education and play facilities near a new development is set to to be dropped.

Grove Road, in the Overdale area of Telford. Photo: Google
Grove Road, in the Overdale area of Telford. Photo: Google

The money was agreed when outline planning permission was granted for around 80 homes to be built on land north of Grove Road in Overdale, Telford, back in 2016.

The site has since been sold to social housing provider Green Square Accord, which now says the scheme is not viable unless the ‘section 106′ agreement, which sets out the sums to be handed over to support local infrastructure, is varied to remove all contributions.

Telford & Wrekin Council’s planning committee will consider the application next week and officers have recommended the variation be approved.

A report to the committee says: “It was known at the time of the outline application that due to the sites complex ground works from the previous mine workings, abnormal costs would be high.

“Since approval of the outline application, it is understood that the applicants had continually marketed the application relatively unsuccessfully due to the site constraints and abnormal costings.”

To prevent the outline permission lapsing, a reserved matters application was lodged in 2019 for 81 homes. This was approved last year and the site was sold to Green Square Accord.

The report says the housing association believes the costs of developing the land were “significantly underestimated in the previous viability assessment at outline stage”.

A new viability assessment has been provided, which says a market housing scheme would not be viable, and a 100 per cent affordable housing scheme can only be made viable because funding can be obtained through Homes England.

However it says even this will only be possible if the council agrees to remove the the agreed financial contributions.

These include £62,000 towards expanding Old Park School, £24,000 towards nearby play facilities and £10,000 for right of way improvements from Grove Road to Waterloo Road.

A decision on the plans will be taken by Telford & Wrekin Council

The officers’ report says: “Informal discussions were held with the education team and rights of way teams whom advised that they had no objection to the loss of contributions in light of the findings of the viability appraisal.

“The education contributions were being sought for improvements/enhancement to Old Park School and the education team advises that an expansion was undertaken in 2016 giving the school greater manoeuvrability with class sizes.

“They have also confirmed that there are no other plans for expansion/improvement at present.

“The rights of way contributions were being sought for improvements to the public right of way (PROW) from Grove Road, behind the houses at Ercall View and leading to the open space area at Waterloo Road; Overdale Play Area.

“Improvements would have included resurfacing the PROW to provide improved accessibility for future residents however, the loss of this contribution is not considered to be an overly significant issue as access to the open space via the adopted highways is only marginally greater in distance.”

The report adds that the council has had the applicant’s viability appraisal assessed by its own consultants, who confirmed the scheme would only make around a seven per cent profit. Normal accepted profit levels are 15 to 20 per cent.

Green Square Accord has stated it intends to market all the properties for affordable rent, and will give the council nomination rights.

The report says the addition of affordable housing to the borough would be a “significant benefit”.

The section 106 variation application will be decided by the planning committee at a meeting next Wednesday.

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