11/02/2019 15:35:00......Posted by Helen Pollard
We are frequently asked what is happening with the ‘garage’ site next to Aldi. It is an eyesore and needs to be redeveloped.
Planning permission has already been given for it to be redeveloped to have 26 flats and retail space on the ground floor so why has work not started?
This was a question that the Selsdon Councillors wanted to ask the developers so a meeting was arranged to find out why nothing is happening. A member of the Council’s Planning Department was also present.
The developer said the problem is that the planning permission with 26 flats, with four of these being affordable housing, is not financially viable. (It is Council policy that a minimum of 15% of properties in a development should be affordable). The developer said they would make a significant loss if they redeveloped the site in the current economic climate. Their view is the development would only be viable if they could have more flats and if the requirement to include affordable housing was removed.
As local councillors, not property development experts, we can’t judge whether viability is really the issue here, but it would be reasonable to think that the developer would have developed the site by now if it could make a profit. The site was purchased in 1996 and the developer seems pretty keen to complete the project.
The current planning permission for the garage site was given before the new Local Plan came into force so there might be scope for a development with more flats. This would inevitably mean a bigger building and this is a compromise that residents might be prepared to consider if the site is to be redeveloped.
At the end of the meeting it was agreed that the developer would meet with the Planning Department to review the options available and see if there is a way that the project can be moved forward.
Just to be clear, as your elected representatives, the Selsdon Councillors will always act in the best interests of the residents of Selsdon. We will not take the side of a property developer. However, in order to try and move this forward we felt it appropriate to meet with the developer and try to establish why nothing is happening. If a revised planning application is submitted to the Council, we will seek your views before deciding whether we will support it.