Homes plan for former College of West Anglia site in Wisbech set for approval with developer paying fraction of money needed for local services
Plans for 137 homes on the former College of West Anglia's agricultural site off Elm High Road look set for approval on Wednesday (15).
Councillors are being asked to approve Foster Property Development's application to build the homes on the brownfield site and to accept an offer of a £250,000 contribution towards local services.
The £250,000, which would be paid under Section 106 by the developer, is just a fraction of the amount originally sought towards the costs of NHS and education and would also be be paid instead of provision of affordable housing on the development.
Cambridgeshire County Council wanted over £2.1million towards the cost of education provision with the bulk of that wanted for primary schools.
Fenland District Council's housing enabling officer recommended the provision of 34 affordable homes out of the 137 proposed with a mix of flats, two and three bedroom houses being made available for rent.
While NHS England wanted just under £50,000 to "mitigate the impact on three GP practices in the area which do not have capacity".
However, a report to Wednesday's Fenland planning committee explains the developer has produced a viability report, which shows the site is "not viable".
It says the viability appraisal has been assessed by the council's Section 106 officer who concluded "there are viability issues preventing the delivery of affordable housing and Section 106 contributions".
The report adds: "Having established the scheme is not viable the section 106 officer has liaised with the applicant to agree to a contribution of £250,000 towards infrastructure provision which will be allocated in liaison with Cambridgeshire County Council. Given the scheme has demonstrated to be unviable the Section 106 officer considers the offer of £250,000 as reasonable."
The report goes onto explain the £250,000 would be "evenly" shared with the county council with its share going towards education.
It adds: "Where limited resources have to be prioritised and given the pressing affordable housing needs, and demands for health provision it is recommended that £75,320 is utilised towards the provision of off-site affordable housing with the remainder for the NHS (£49,680)."
The proposed development, which is recommended for approval, will also see highways improvements including alterations to the Ramnoth Road and Elm High Road junction to form a new vehicular and pedestrian access.
The report also adds that the proposed houses are "undeniably contemporary" but says the proposal to include different colour groupings with detailed brick inlays "provides some design relief from modern monotony".
In conclusion the report says: "It is for members to consider the benefits of the development set against the harm arising from not providing affordable housing or education contributions. It is officer opinion that, in this instance, the benefits outweigh harm and recommend that permission is granted subject to the conditions and the completion of a section 106 agreement."