Paper promises

From; Sue Cooper

At the meeting of Swale Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday 30 October, where permission was granted to rubber stamp the building works at Baltic House and grant planning permission again despite ongoing enforcement matters (presumably the illegal work without planning permission or listed building consent to connect to mains drainage), another big issue for Swale was discussed which is of great relevance to the thinking behind our developer led Neighbourhood Plan.

The prime reason for allowing increases in land values is so that development cash can be injected into infrastructure projects for the Creek? Is that right? We all know that is tosh because any sums thought of in the first place would only ever be enough to fund cosmetics such as neat moorings, tidy paths and surfacing with maybe a mooring post or two and a few affordable houses.  Well, if the negotiations with the Paper Mill site in Sittingbourne are anything to go by this is pie in the sky in an improbable galaxy way beyond our properly researched and evidence-based hopes for a working creek.

The excitingly named Essential Land are negotiating and Swale are in a very very weak position and are having to agree to vast reductions in their promises. There are now only 5 affordable units (3% of the total), they are asking to be excused from education contributions, rescheduling landscaping, renegotiating underpasses, and – as for the heritage bits, well that was not apparently even worth discussing as the other losses outweigh them – arguing that their profit levels forecast in 2012 to be at a level which would allow all this loveliness have dropped below the 20% of final sale value that they are apparently entitled to. Gosh, who knew the housing market was sinking so fast?

When will Councillors learn not to trust developers’ promises?

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