Builder claims profits won’t justify affordable homes on village development

Profit warning: Developing this site will leave no money for affordable homes, planners told
Profit warning: Developing this site will leave no money for affordable homes, planners told
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Developers wanting to put houses on a former industrial site in a Barnsley village insist the profit margins would be too low for them to provide the expected affordable homes or to make any cash contribution to the council.

In addition, planning papers from Rouse Homes for the old Company Shop site in Tankersley would not feature any public green space.

The land covers the site of the old Birdwell railway station, which was demolished in the early 1980s and replaced with industrial units last occupied by Company Shop, which moved out in 2012.

At present, the site is regarded as employment land but Barnsley Council has suggested that it could be transferred for use as housing land under its Local Plan blueprint for housing and employment development in the decades ahead, though that document has yet to be accepted by an external inspector.

The Rouse Homes application would see 29 homes go up on the site, between two and four bedrooms in size, with an access road onto New Road, in a similar position to the existing drive to the site.

Normal planning rules insist on affordable homes on developments of more than 15 units.

Barnsley Council's rules suggest 30 per cent in the Penistone area, with the site falling into the Penistone East ward.

Documents submitted to Barnsley Council state: “Due to the nature of the development there won’t be any public spaces within the proposal.”

An assessment of the economic viability of the project – or how much profit it might make – states in conclusion: “We have demonstrated from the evidence provided in this report that the level of Section 106 and affordable housing contribution which this site can deliver is nil.

“A more onerous requirement would not offer the appropriate incentive to the landowner or developer and the development would be unviable.”

Documents state the site is still owned by Company Shop, a business which has grown over around 40 years by trading in supermarket oversupply food which would otherwise go to waste, with the money raised expected to be invested in the business’s current headquarters a short distance away on the Wentworth Park industrial estate.

The site has been on the market for industrial use for the last 18 months, but has attracted virtually no interest, meaning it is unlikely to have a future in generating jobs.

Barnsley Council accepted that it may be better suited to housing when it was suggested as a potential housing site several months ago, as officials worked on the Local Plan.

They had to find sites for more homes than originally anticipated, on the orders of a Government planning inspector who must sign off the plan as ‘sound’ before it can be formally adopted. That process is expected to be completed within the next few months.

Coun Robert Barnard, who represents the area on Barnsley Council, said: “I am not happy about the absence of a Section 106 contribution. It is going to be difficult to object completely as the development is a brownfield site. I will be raising my objection with the planning department.”