After criticism of its delivery of affordable housing hit the national media earlier this year, Manchester City Council has recommended a 100% shared ownership scheme in Crumpsall for refusal in a move backed by council leader Sir Richard Leese.
The project has been put forward by Bowsall Developments for a plot off Linn Street, to the rear of Crumpsall Constitutional Club.
Designed by JDA Architects, the proposals cover a site formerly used as a bowling green and feature 28 apartments for shared ownership, with eight units on the ground floor and 10 on the first and second. There are also 28 car parking spaces, along with new boundary treatments around the site.
The scheme has also been part-funded by Homes England and has attracted interest from a number of registered providers; the apartments on the site are likely to be pitched towards key workers. The bowling green on the site has not been used for a number of years and has been contaminated with Japanese Knotweed. Mosaic is planner for the project.
Despite the developer arguing that “there is a real and substantial affordable housing need in Crumpsall”, the proposals have been recommended for refusal by planners at next week’s committee.
There have also been objections to the proposals from three local councillors including leader of the council Sir Richard Leese, who is a councillor for Crumpsall, along with Cllrs Ali and Riasat.
The councillors argued the proposals were “not in keeping” with the surrounding area, and argued the application “has not provided any affordable housing” despite the apartments being offered for shared ownership.
Leese, Ali, and Riasat added: “These proposals are an over development of a site in a residential area which would be ideally suited to affordable housing, with a loss of sports facilities and green spaces.”
Planners argued the site should be brought forward as affordable family homes rather than as apartments, and said the developer had “not made the case for high density development”. The report to committee also criticised the design as “bulky” with an “imposing presence” which would have “a detrimental impact on the character of the area”.
The planners’ report said: “The proposed development is considered to be an inappropriate form of development which represents overdevelopment of the site and does not take into account the context of the site and is not informed by its surroundings, having a poor relationship with adjoining residential properties.
“The impact of this high density, overdeveloped site would be seriously detrimental to the character, context and visual amenity of the neighbourhood and surrounding area, and would not result in the positive and successful regeneration of the area.”
Planning officers recommend refusing the scheme on the basis of policies SP1, H1, and H3 of the council’s Core Strategy.
Responding to concerns over the site, the developer sent a letter to members citing an independent viability assessment, which it claimed showed that alternative housing development on the site was “not viable” and “would not help the city meet its affordable housing targets”.
In a statement to Place North West, Glenn Rowson, managing director of Bowsall Developments said: “We are deeply disappointed that officers have failed to recognise the opportunity to deliver 28 100% affordable homes in the City.
“Given the pressure that Manchester is under to build genuinely affordable homes, we are at a loss to understand why it has not been possible to work positively with the City Council thus far – despite repeated attempts to do so.
“We remain convinced that the scheme is the only viable option for the contaminated site. Given the recent debate around affordable housing delivery in the City it is our view that this application is timely, necessary, deliverable and much-needed.
“We hope that planning committee members carefully consider the message they would be sending to residents by following the officer’s recommendation to refuse.”
The city council’s delivery of affordable housing came under fire earlier this year with The Guardian claiming that none of the 15,000 homes planned in central Manchester were classed as affordable.
However, Manchester City Council refuted this claim, arguing that if homes approved under delegated powers were included, the city would have delivered 4.5% of its total homes as affordable. According to the council, since April 2015, 3,000 affordable homes have either already been delivered or are in the pipeline, with the full quota to be delivered by March 2021, and a further 3,400 affordable homes will be built by March 2025 – at least 1,000 of which will be social rent.