Housebuilders win consent in Preston after viability debate

Having initially lodged plans for 500 homes on a site west of Tabley Lane, joint applicants Bloor Homes and Taylor Wimpey have been given permission to build 320 after more than a year of back and forth with the council.

In December 2020, the housebuilders applied to deliver 500 homes on the 50-acre site but this was scaled back first to 353 and finally to 320. 

Yesterday, Preston City Council’s planning committee approved the plans in line with officers’ recommendations. 

However, the granting of planning consent is subject to the developers and the council signing a Section 106 agreement before 4 February. 

The S106 agreement would see Bloor and Taylor Wimpey pay £3.2m towards the creation of a link road and other infrastructure improvements around the site, as well as delivering a local centre and setting aside land for a secondary school. 

The viability debate  

In March 2021, the applicants submitted a viability appraisal that found that paying the council’s requested contributions would render the scheme unviable. 

The county highways engineer requested the developers provide £2.8m towards the cost of the link road, while the council asked for 30% on-site affordable housing and a community infrastructure levy contribution of £3.9m. 

The council commissioned its own viability appraisal in response, which found the developers could afford to pay the link road contribution if the amount of affordable housing was reduced. 

Having reduced the total number of homes by around 150, Bloor and Taylor Wimpey submitted another viability appraisal to the council. 

The updated appraisal found that, with a full CIL payment but no contribution towards the link road or affordable housing, the developer could return a profit of 12.84%. 

In turn, the council reappraised the scheme in September 2021, changing its position on the link road by asking for a significantly reduced contribution of £500,000. 

With no affordable housing obligation, the developers could expect a profit of 18.97%, the report found. 

However, the reintroduction of a local centre into the scheme, as well as upping the amount of land for the secondary school to 12 acres, meant that the developers’ contributions were revised once again. 

Following deferral of a decision on the scheme late last year, the outcome of the viability discussions will see Taylor Wimpey and Bloor pay a total of £3.2m; £110,000 towards the link road and £3.1m in CIL payments. The housebuilders are not required to deliver any on-site or off-site affordable housing. 

If the S106 agreement is not signed before 4 February, the application will be refused, according to a council report. 

Bloor and Taylor Wimpey were advised by planner Lichfields, landscape consultancy Randall Thorp, highways advisor Eddisons, drainage expert Betts Associates, ecology advisor ERAP and TEP. 

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£10k per plot in CIL and no affordable. We all know that HB’s never allow the profit to drop below 20% with the actual number is nearer to 30% just look at the accounts.

By Amazed

The HB’s viability will be so stacked. Everyone knows the profits outlined are way too low.

By concerned

In what earthly endeavour is a profit of around 13% not an acceptable return on investment? The big housebuilders are so risk averse that they need a huge cushion before they get out of bed. Incredible state of affairs and shows how the industry badly needs disruption via government intervention if necessary to open out the land market to new players.

By Sceptic

30% affordable housing on this housing development.. Affordable housing is not affordable.

By Darren Born Bred

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