Agenda item - BH2017/01083 - City College, 87 Preston Road, Brighton - Deed of Variation

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Agenda item

BH2017/01083 - City College, 87 Preston Road, Brighton - Deed of Variation


(1)              It was noted that an in-depth presentation had been provided by officers in advance of the meeting and was included on the council website detailing the scheme by reference to site plans, elevational drawings which showed the scheme in the context of neighbouring development. A request had been received to vary the Heads of Terms of the Section 106 Agreement signed in connection with planning application BH2017/01083, in order to amend the affordable housing requirements so that a commuted sum could be paid in lieu of the provision of ten on-site affordable housing units.


(2)              It was considered that the developer had provided sufficient justification and evidence that the affordable housing units could not be provided on site, and therefore an exception to this requirement within Policy CP20 could be accepted in this case and remained policy compliant as it remained the most practical outcome for the site and would allow for the delivery of affordable housing in the city. The developer had agreed to offer an in-lieu commuted sum of £1, 357,500 which would be payable within 12 months of occupation. It was important to note that any subsequent sales of residential units after 12 months where payment of the commuted sum had not been made would be prevented by the Council. The clauses which would need to be added to the Deed of Variation were set out in the report and subject to their inclusion approval was recommended.


(3)              Ms Thompson was in attendance on behalf of the owners of the site and explained the process that had been undertaken in seeking to provide on-site affordable housing and how having been unsuccessful in doing so a commuted sum was now proposed as an alternative.


(4)  Councillor Shanks expressed concern that it had not been possible to provide affordable units on site. Whilst it was understood that other social providers had been unwilling to take on the units, she also wanted assurance that the Council itself had looked at the possibility of taking on units on site. A policy decision had been made to pursue that option in relation to such developments but as yet that did not appear to be occurring. The Empty Property Officer, explained that that where appropriate the Council did so, but with high spec developments the cost of taking on such units could be too high.


(5)        Councillor Shanks also sought clarification of the situation should permission be refused. The Senior Planning Officer explained that would create uncertainty as no providers on the council’s preferred Registered Provider list had been willing to take on affordable units and under those circumstances the s106 would need to be re-visited.


(6)        The Chair noted the concerns expressed noting that this issue needed to be pursued via the Housing Committee.


(7)        In answer to questions by Councillor Janio it was explained that as the proposed affordable units had been secured as shared ownership units they were not an option for the Council to buy as shared ownership units are not developed by the Council at present. The commuted sum would provide a significant sum towards housing. Councillor Shanks stated that in her view it had not been made clear to members previously.


            Debate and Decision Making Process


(8)        Councillor Miller stated that he did not support the proposed variation as he considered there should be an on-site provision.


(9)        Councillor Theobald stated that she supported the proposal, the applicants had provided a good sum towards off site provision which represented a better contribution than on many other sites.


(10)      Councillor Childs concurred stating that in this instance the developer had taken their duties seriously and had tried to meet their s106 responsibilities and as that had not proved possible had provided an acceptable sum in lieu. They should be commended for that. Councillors Janio, Yates and Osborne concurred in that view. Councillor Yates stated that the housing and planning regimes appeared to be out of kilter with each other and that needed to be addressed. In this instance, however, the developer had exhausted all avenues available to them.


(11)    A vote was taken and on a vote of 8 to 1 with 1 abstention Members agreed grant the requested Deed of Variation.


92.4    RESOLVED – That the Committee has taken into consideration and agrees with the reasons for the recommendation set out in the report and resolves to GRANT the Deed of Variation to the s106 Agreement so that the developer is obligated to pay a commuted sum of £1, 357, 500, twelve (12) months after first occupation, in lieu of providing the affordable housing in the form of ten shared ownership units on site.

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