Anger after developers behind new homes in Cramlington reduce financial contributions by £1m

Councillors have hit out after developers behind a 715-home scheme in Cramlington reduced their financial contributions to the council.

Friday, 6th August 2021, 11:00 am
The land to the south of Beacon Lane, Cramlington, where they are proposing to build 715 new homes.

Barratt Homes and Keepmoat Homes had received planning application for the scheme in the south west of the town in 2017 subject to agreements over Section 106 funding.

An initial £8.65million and 143 affordable homes were agreed but following discussions with Northumberland County Council and work on the land in question they returned with an updated offer of £7.59m and 52 affordable homes – resulting in an overall viability deficit of £3million.

Among the deficits is a reduction for a sports pavilion building from £759,000 to £697,998 plus reduction of primary education contribution from £4.8million to £4.4m and secondary education from £740,000 to £684,500.

There would be £319,000 for new ecology coastal mitigation contribution and a new healthcare contribution of £415,500.

Planning officer Geoff Horsman told members that it was hoped to claw the deficit back through a proposed maintenance fee once the site was finished.

The varied plans, which included alterations to the style of some of the homes due to public feedback, were approved by the council’s Strategic Planning Committee.

The committee was told the 34-hectare area to the south of Beacon Lane was part of a larger scheme to build 2,300 new homes in the south west of Cramlington, with work already underway on more than 1,500 homes near Arcot Hall.

Mr Horsman added: “This site has stalled and hasn’t started yet due to abnormal costs faced by the developers.”

Developers said work had taken place on the site as parts were used for opencast mining in the 1940s and 50s, with associated costs to stabilise the land in line with NHBC guidelines.

Ian Prescott, land and partnership’s director at Keepmoat Homes, said: “We need to start next Monday when the soil is reasonably decent. If we don’t start in the next week or so, we won’t be able to start until next May.

"It’s immensely complicated.”

But committee members expressed their disappointment at modifications to the plans.

Coun Caroline Ball said: “I’m disappointed with the drop in the number of affordable homes, especially in the times we find ourselves in.

"The reduction in funding for the other areas is wrong, we need investment for our education in that area.

"People from Cramlington need to be able to afford to live in Cramlington, they are being pushed out.”

Coun Julie Foster added: “We are seeing this with the number of affordable homes reducing time and time again. Developers are doing it far too often.

"There is also the reduction in primary education contributions. Our schools have gone through a very difficult period with Covid where children are behind and the amount they’re getting to support the children back to where they were from the Government is not enough.”

Coun Jeff Reid said the application was a “trade off” with the chance to create jobs and communities against the back-drop of lower Section 106 funding.

Committee chairman Coun Trevor Thorne said: “The Section 106 funding is our gift to residents. It’s a huge chunk of money, being over £7m.

"Yes, it’s disappointing the number of affordable homes has gone down and education money has gone down but there is more funding for ecology coastal migration and healthcare.”