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New threat could sink homes plan
CONTROVERSIAL plans for 172 new homes on parkland are likely to be thrown out unless the developer agrees to fund social housing, schools and roads, the Echo can reveal.
Garrison Developments has offered almost £1million towards a 7ft seawall planned for Shoebury Common if it gets permission for a new estate on Old Gunners Park, Shoebury.
But the developer insists the scheme will be unviable if it is forced to hand over 30 per cent of the homes to a housing association, as well as contributing £1.5million for schools and between £10,000 and £15,000 towards highway improvements.
Now, a letter passed to the Echo shows a Southend Council planning officer told the firm’s technical director the scheme was unlikely to be approved without the contributions.
An extract from the letter from Dean Hermitage, Southend Council’s group manager for development and building control, to Paul Denney, Garrison Developments’ technical director, on March 6 last year, said: “If the development is unviable and cannot provide any education contributions or affordable housing, one would question if the development of the site for mixed use (residential and commercial) is appropriate at all.
“The site is currently zoned for employment on the Garrison masterplan and expected to contribute to the borough’s employment targets up to 2021.
“Thus, I doubt the council would support bringing the site forward as a mixed-use scheme if it could not meet any policy requirements.”
Residents facing creaking infrastructure in Shoebury are outraged Garrison Developments, which could rake inmore than £60million in sales from the estate, is unwilling to dig deep.
John Budge, treasurer of Shoebury Residents’ Association, said: “If it is not contributing to affordable housing, it shouldn’t be allowed.
“The developer has been very keen to offer £1million towards the ill-fated seawall scheme.
“If it is that generous, it should be prepared to contribute to other things that will benefit the locality.”
Andrew Lewis, the council’s corporate director for place, said: “The officer advises that should the applicant consider the development cannot fund adequate planning contributions, the council will expect a viability appraisal to be carried out to demonstrate this.”
A spokesman for Garrison Developments said: “The council has undertaken an independent review of our own viability assessments in deciding how much we should contribute and we look forward to discussing this.
“How these contributions are spent, once this has been decided, is up to the council.”
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