Saturday, 30 May 2009

St Modwen Development set to be rejected

Sadly, the planners on Darlington Borough Council are recommending that the proposal to build 250 houses and flats on Whessoe Road, on the site of the old Corus works, be rejected by the Planning Development Committee when it meets this week. They say there isn't enough affordable housing in the scheme. The Echo has the story, and a chance for you to comment, here.

This development was welcomed by local residents. It would have restored an ugly, dangerous, derelict and useless 18 acre site (half of which falls within my North Road ward) and provided much needed housing.

What I don't understand is, weren't there any discussions between the officers and the developers at an early stage so that the planners could have indicated they were unhappy about this aspect of the plan? St Modwen could then have amended their plans accordingly. Or maybe there was such a discussion and St Modwen went ahead with their plans anyway.

It's all very disappointing. I hope, assuming councillors accept the recommendation of the officers, that a revised plan can be brought forward in due course.


Aeres said...

As a resident of Harrowgate Hill I can't help noticing that this development looks like being rejected with an overwhelming public approval rate whilst the (now thriving) White Horse was happily approved to be turned into flats despite overwhelming public opposition.

Presumably the planning officers are only following the guidelines given to them and therefore one can hardly blame them. However, as the guidelines are presumably there for the good of society is it not strange that such apparent vast variances to public opinion can happen?

Mike, not sure if you'd know this but it'd be good to give a bit of background as to the rules that this development falls foul of. What constitutes 'affordable' housing? Is this a council policy or is it passed down from central government?

Mike Barker said...

I understand the Council have asked for 75 of the 250 homes to be "affordable", while the developer says that the development would not be viable if there was ANY "affordable" housing on the site.

This may be an opening negotiating position: I don't know. I have asked various people what "affordable" housing actually is, and it seems to be whatever the local planning authority says it should be!

The developer would like the matter deferred to the next planning cycle in order to allow more time for discussion and negotiation. Hopefully the committee will agree to that, rather than outright rejection, which would put the whole process back and increase everyone's costs.

Aeres said...

Thanks for taking the time to respond Mike - much appreciated.

The two parties seem miles apart, although as you say it may just be posturing for negotiations sake.

As I think you alluded to before, I would've thought that the main concern would actually be the effect on Harrowgate Hill school which I think is already oversubscribed as it is.