How a 6-storey vision can become a 14-storey tower through the planning process

Author: Cyril Richert

Last May was approved a new development in York Road for a part 5, 9, 11, 13 and 14 storey providing 82 residential units (with only 7 car parking spaces and 145 cycle parking spaces located at basement level). [p.a. 2017/5818].

Advertised as a 6-storey building potential

It is interesting to see that, at the time the proposed plot was advertised, the potential development was however very different: a 6 storey building, with 39 apartments (9 affordable) with terrace or balcony and retail premises on the ground floor. The 0.25-acre site was acquired by IP Global in 2015 and proposed for sale in January 2017 for £7,250,000.

6 storey building, with 39 apartments

Approved by the Council for a 14-storey tower

It was bought by Ideal Land in 2018 and the property developer claimed that it had planning permission for a 14-storey tower, with 83 flats, each with their own landscaped balcony (see architect design HERE).

14-storey tower, with 83 flats

Amazingly, while the development is more than double the scheme initially suggested for the sale, and provides no social housing (only affordable as shared ownership or intermediate rent), the viability assessment suggests that it “represents the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing the scheme can support” according to the company in charge of the appraisal. BNP Paribas even judged that “the applicant’s profit would be in slight deficit“. What does it mean??? They loose money? NO, they make a tiny bit less than planned!

Because one thing is certain: when a site is valued £7.25m for a 6 storey building and you manage to build 14 storey on it, the profit is HUGE!

For a Council which only cares about short term and money, more units means a bigger tax (CIL and section 106 dedicated to specific projects). The initial CIL for the 6 storey building [p.a. 2013/6160] was generating c.£730,000 (+£210k in the p.a. to be allocated for affordable housing purposes) while the CIL may now be estimated c.£1,600,000.

Money could be a motivation to encourage developers to build bigger and taller. As Council officers often say: “benefits outweigh harm“!

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