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Developers’ cash cut gains approval
7:50am Friday 12th October 2012 in News
SWINDON Council’s planning committee has endorsed a cut in the money a developer has to pay to build homes on a site in West Swindon.
Labour group leader Coun Jim Grant raised concerns in the Adver on Wednesday over a proposal to slash the amount of Section 106 money the developer has to pay for the Moredon Bridge development by £2.7m.
Section 106 money is money developers pay to the council to reduce the impact of the development. The total is agreed when planning permission is granted.
The Moredon Bridge development, which is within Wiltshire Council’s boundary, consists of 200 homes on the land adjoining Sparcells, which was granted permission on appeal in 2009.
Originally it had been agreed that the developers would pay £3.8m to help with local infrastructure, but as a result of a change in circumstances, the developer and Wiltshire Council have agreed that the best way forward is to renegotiate the package to just over £1m.
This was endorsed by the planning committee, which had a Labour majority on Tuesday as some Conservative members were absent.
Coun Dale Heenan, the cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said: “This is a development no one wanted and, by a boundary quirk, it is in Wiltshire not Swindon “This is not a decision anyone would want to make, and I am not pleased with it but I grudgingly accept the tough position we are in.
“Swindon will receive over £1m towards local infrastructure, like roads, so there is a silver lining, and we will make the best of the situation.
“The leader of the Labour group needs to give some hard thought about his ever increasing number of reactionary negative stances, and how to put residents first instead of playing politics with Swindon.
“Despite running to the media against the proposed change, the Labour councillors on the planning committee pushed through this multi-million reduction.
“This is a major embarrassment for Labour and borders on a farce.
“You cannot say one thing to the press, and the next day do the complete opposite in the council.”
Labour says Coun Grant and Coun Des Moffatt (both Lab, Rodbourne Cheney) attended Tuesday’s meeting to express their dissatisfaction and concern with regard to the proposals to allow the developer to renege on the original S106 agreement, which they claimed sent the wrong message.
Coun Grant said: “I am glad that the planning committee unanimously expressed their dissatisfaction that the housing developer is reneging on the original S106 agreement.
“Indeed, one Labour councillor proposed that the issue be highlighted nationally so that other local councils are not caught out in the same way as Wiltshire and Swindon Borough Council have been by the Moredon Bridge developer.
“Planning officers will now be taking in to account the planning members’ views when entering discussions with the developer over a new S106 agreement.”