Developer claims its pledge to build affordable homes in Derbyshire is now ‘unviable’

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A developer building homes on a contaminated Derbyshire site is looking to ditch pledges to build affordable housing and pay thousands for healthcare and school improvements.

Wheeldon Brothers Ltd was granted permission to build 93 houses on land off Hall Road, Langley Mill, deemed an “unacceptable risk to the environment” last June.

A year later, the firm is looking to ditch a pledge to build 27 affordable homes on the site, along with half a million pounds worth of total commitments to offset the scheme.

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It has filed an application to Amber Valley Borough Council, a year after gaining approval for its development, saying the scheme would be “unviable” if it followed through with all its commitments.

The firm says that sticking to it's commitments would make the development 'unviable'.The firm says that sticking to it's commitments would make the development 'unviable'.
The firm says that sticking to it's commitments would make the development 'unviable'.

The firm’s application, through a document compiled by Savills suggests axing £519,797 in commitments to improvements in the Langley Mill area down to £12,000.

This would include dropping all of the affordable homes which the firm had committed to, along with thousands of pounds for education and healthcare improvements.

Savills details that the scheme would generate £16.13 million in sales, giving the developer the 20 per cent in profits it requires – £3.23 million.

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It says: “Our policy compliant appraisal (assuming 30% on site affordable housing) does not generate a suitable minimum level of developer’s profit.

“It is therefore considered to be unviable.

“Our variant appraisal assumes a private-only scheme and reflects the total costs of delivering the proposed new scheme.”

To offset the impact of the development on services, the applicant had agreed to pay £307,565 towards expansions at Aldercar Infant School and Langley Mill Academy; £60,174 for improvements and equipment at Aldercar Recreation Ground; and £44,736 for extra capacity at Brooklyn Medical Practice in Heanor.

However, this would be dropped significantly if the council approved the developer’s application on viability.

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Part of the site, on the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire border, used to be a landfill and much of the plot is home to coal seams and associated harmful gases.

Investigative work into the site by experts commissioned by Wheeldon recommends some homes are built on suspended floors to avoid underground hazards.

The area of land between the site and the River Erewash is marked on maps as a former tip.

A report commissioned by Wheeldon and carried out by Geo Matters, found “hotspots” of asbestos, arsenic, lead and benzo(a)pyrene (a material found in coal tar and tobacco which causes cancer).

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It says this would make land unsuitable to be used for gardens and could cause risks to would-be residents if left in place without mitigation.

At last June’s council planning meeting, Cllr Ron Ashton said: “I can remember this site when anybody and everybody tipped anything. It wasn’t monitored in any sense.”

Bob Woollard, of Planning Design Group, the agent for the applicant, had said: “The opportunity here to remediate the small amount of contamination identified actually carries significant weight in favour of this proposal. Quite frankly, remediation doesn’t happen without development.”

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