Springmount Mill returns to Stockport agenda

Proposals to redevelop Stockport’s Springmount Mill will again be discussed by the council this week after part of the existing building had to be demolished before planning permission was issued.

The proposals for the site off Brinksway is for 175 apartments across three new blocks ranging between five and eight storeys, while the mill’s façade was to be retained as part of the plans.

Designed by L7 Architects for developer Carpenter Investments, the original proposals were approved in November last year, subject to a Section 106 agreement.

However, in early March, before the Section 106 agreement was signed and planning permission was formally issued, a large section of the existing building’s roof was damaged in high winds, and on the advice of building control officers and the Health & Safety Executive, part of the structure was demolished.

Some of this was originally proposed to be retained to form the site’s boundary wall.

As a consequence, Carpenter entered discussions with the council over the structural condition of the building fronting Brinksway, with a further report submitted to Stockport in support of demolishing the building’s façade, which had previously been earmarked for retention under the previous plans.

The fresh report to the council raised concerns over the building’s structural stability, and the developer said the property was “difficult to access” due to safety concerns, limiting its ability to assess the building. The building has been subject to both vandalism and arson attacks.

This report has led planning officers to consider the practicality of a façade retention along Brinksway and how it would be delivered.

In their report to the council, planners said a retention would require a total closure of the road, and after liaison with the local highways authority, found that this would not be possible within the next year, as the road cannot be fully closed other than for one weekend during a school holiday period.

As a result, the developer has now asked the council whether it can fully demolish the site’s locally listed structures, and reconstruct the facades, rather than retaining them throughout the project.

Planners said this proposal would lead to the “regrettable” loss of the original façade, but said the plans would otherwise be “identical” and that a re-built façade using the original brickwork would “ensure the development still reflects some of the historic characteristics of the site”.

Recommending the scheme for approval last November, planners said the retention of the façade would “help to ensure the presence of the Springmount Mill site is maintained in years to come”.

The plans are now being re-consulted upon, and this is due to close ahead of Stockport Council’s Central Stockport Area committee this Thursday.

The original Section 106 agreement, outlined last November, was to include a clawback provision of £1m, half of what would normally be expected of a development of this size, owing to the issues identified in the viability appraisal.

The S106 agreement will also include contributions to outdoor recreation spaces at Bonar Park, and a contribution towards improvements at Torkington Park, which have again been included as a clawback.

Carpenter’s proposals for the mill site do not include any provision for affordable homes, despite the fact that the council’s planning policy would call for between 35 to 44 affordable units at the development.

A viability appraisal was submitted alongside the planning application by the developer, which argued that the project would not be viable if affordable homes were included.

This appraisal was tested by council advisors, who Cfound the scheme would be of “marginal viability” if affordable homes were to be included, due to factors including the extensive contamination of the site, remediation costs, and the retention of the mills façade.

However, the advisors said the scheme would “not achieve close to a 20% profit margin” under the current plans.

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