MMU Alsager plans revised to include local affordable housing

A small number of affordable homes have been included in revised plans for the former MMU Alsager campus in Congleton by housebuilders Barratt and David Wilson Homes.

After Cheshire East councillors deferred a decision in July to consider affordability and educational provision in more depth, the plans have been expanded from 407 units to 426 units to accommodate 19 one-bedroom homes, of which eight would be apartments and 11 mews houses.

These additional units take the affordability quota from zero to 4%, and would be priced below £100,000 and offered to local people first.

The usual affordability allowance for new housing applications was not included from the start because Barratt and David Wilson Homes have agreed to spend £5m on new sports pitches at Alsager Leisure Centre, and there are extraordinary costs of £10m for demolishing the former university buildings and remediating the land. A £2m contribution to local schools to accommodate extra pupils generated has also been waived. Council officers accept that the development would not be commercially viable without this set of agreements.

However, numerous objections have been lodged and the plans are open to further comment until 20 September. Objectors say the land was designated protected in the Local Plan and has been given away, roads are at capacity, siblings are already being turned away from local schools.

Supporters include local MP Fiona Bruce, Sport England and local hockey clubs.

Barratt’s annual results published this month showed an average selling price of £289,800 in the year to July 2016. Selling 400 units at that price would generate sales in excess of £115m and £17m profit at the 15% operating margin Barratt reported.

The revised plans are recommended for approval subject to conditions at the strategic planning board of Cheshire East Council on 21 September.

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