NEWS FROM CHUDLEIGH TOWN COUNCIL: SEPTEMBER 2018
Well, not exactly fake news, more a case of lazy and inaccurate journalism. However, using that title hopefully acted as the hook to keep you reading this article.
In the 7th September edition of the Mid-Devon Advertiser it was stated that “A spare £600,000 is just sitting in a Chudleigh Town Council bank account because members haven’t decided what they want to spend it on”. Oh, if only! This has led to a string of suggestions being posted on social media regarding how the money should be spent ranging from giving it to the school to filling in potholes. Unfortunately, none of these options are possible.
The £600,000 relates to the old Rivendell site which was previously owned by Home Farm Trust who used it as residential accommodation for adults with learning difficulties. They sold the site to a developer who received planning consent in 2014 to construct 27 dwellings on the site. When a development will exceed ten dwellings there is normally a requirement that there will be a proportion of affordable or social housing on the site. This can range from affordable housing for rent, starter homes or discounted market sales housing. In the case of the Rivendell development the District Council did not consider the site to be suitable for affordable housing due to the indifferent pedestrian connectivity to the town. Instead, the developer was required to make a financial contribution in lieu of providing actual properties. This contribution was agreed as £647,930. This was written into the section 106 agreement between the developer and the District Council. A section 106 agreement will contain details of the financial contributions required to mitigate the impact that the development will have on the community. This can cover a highways contribution to cover the cost of road improvements needed to support the development or education contributions to find additional school facilities. A section 106 agreement is legally binding on all parties. The developer must pay the sums agreed and the District Council (or the County Council when there are educational or highways contributions) must use the money only for the purpose for which it was provided.
So, in this case, the £647,930 can only be used to fund affordable or social housing. By the way, the money sits in the District Council’s account as they are responsible for housing provision. The Town Council will never receive these funds but the aim is that the money should be used to fund housing within the town. The Town Council is being asked only to state a preference regarding how the money should be spent. For instance, would we prefer rental housing or discounted sales market housing? Would we want to target the young or older residents? Is the need for smaller one and two bedroom units or for larger properties? Once a decision is made on these issues then the District Council will work with an affordable housing provider to deliver the properties.