Another developer attempts to rip-off EDDC (and the NHS)

.”A housing developer has been accused of ‘blackmail’ over a refusal to pay any contribution to the NHS.

Councillors had previously agreed to a land swap between the Exeter Science Park and Eagle One that would make the next phase of the Science Park expansion more deliverable and allow the 150 new homes to form an extension of the Redhayes/Mosshayne development.

The plans were agreed by councillors in April, subject to a viability assessment of a £216,000 contribution towards the NHS due to the impact of the development.

At last Tuesday’s East Devon District Council development management committee meeting, Chris Rose, the council’s development manager, said that the NHS contribution would not have a sufficiently detrimental impact on scheme viability to cause the proposed land transfer to fail.

But he said that Eagle One have said that as the overall transaction would not be in their interest, they will not agree to provide any NHS contribution.

Officers had recommended that councillors approve the application, even without any NHS contribution.

Mr Rose said: “In pure viability grounds, our viability consultant considers that with the contribution to the Trust, the development is still just viable but could certainly support a reduced sum of £81,422 as officers have tried to negotiate.

“However, the applicant is not prepared to enter into a S106 agreement which includes any contribution to the Trust as they consider it doesn’t meet the tests for acceptability and that the land deal is on the basis of what was previously agreed without the contribution to the Trust.

“The options open to the council are therefore to either refuse planning permission on the basis that the development does not adequately mitigate its impact on health services, or accept that no contribution to the Trust will be forthcoming and proceed.

“The main risk with a refusal is that the proposed land deal would be lost which would negatively impact on the delivery of the Science Park.

“To issue an approval of planning permission without the contribution to the Trust would secure the land deal and have huge benefits to the progress of the Science Park. Members would need to be clear that to do this would accept no mitigation for the impact of the development on health services.

While at the current time, significant weight should be attached to the request for a contribution to the NHS Trust, it is considered that greater weight should be attached to the proposed land transfer which will facilitate significant long terms gains for the delivery of a major science park integrated with the other development happening in the area.

“While there are grounds to secure a contribution to the Trust, nevertheless the applicant will not agree to a contribution and have advised that they will not enter into the land transfer on this basis. “The only way for the Council to proceed with confidence that the land swap transaction will go ahead would be without the NHS contribution.”

He added though that late documentation had been provided by the applicant from neighbouring councils to support Eagle One’s assertion that the NHS’s request was not justified, but that officers had not had the chance to fully assess the documentation.

Cllr Kevin Blakey, portfolio holder for economy, said that the application should be approved due to the benefits it would bring to the Science Park, and that if it was refused, the land swap deal was almost certain to fail.

He added: “Although the request is legal, this deal won’t proceed if there is a requirement for Eagle One to make a contribution. It may be unpalatable but if we want to see this happen and introduce opportunities for highly paid and highly skilled jobs, this deal should proceed.”

But Cllr Mike Allen, lead member for business and employment, said that while the land swap should proceed, there should be a contribution for the NHS as it was viable. He added: “This has been rejected by Eagle One and I think they have stepped over the line from negotiation to bullying.”

Cllr Steve Gazzard said that he had real concerns about the application and that Eagle One’s behaviour was ‘tantamount to blackmail’. He said: “They will build 150 homes so that could be up to 500 people, and it will increase pressure on the NHS. It is not an undemanding request that they should provide something.”

He proposed that the application be deferred to seek further advice on the legitimacy of the health contribution following additional information being submitted by the applicant.

Cllr Paul Hayward supported him, although said: “I wouldn’t use the word blackmail. I think undue pressure may be better. I am sure there is a reason why the NHS has asked, so we have to take it into account. We have asked for something, and they are saying they won’t pay and won’t move their position at all. We need to see the evidence.”

The council’s solicitor, Henry Gordon Lennox, said that officers had considered the benefits from the land swap were sufficiently great that the application should be approved, even if there is no contribution towards the NHS.

He said: “We were content that the contribution was justified, and we have now been given information that it isn’t, and we haven’t had a chance to look at it properly. But as they aren’t paying a contribution anyway, so it is irrelevant.

“Our officers are suggesting you approve it without any contribution to the NHS. If you are not willing to do that, then deferral is the right option, as we need to understand the legitimacy of the health contribution.”

The committee agreed to defer a decision for a further month to seek further advice on the legitimacy of the health contribution.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/blackmail-claims-over-housing-developers-3205288

Not the first time Eagle One has hit the headlines:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/06/25/eddc-current-planning-policy-encapsulated-in-one-planning-application/

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2014/11/19/more-development-between-exeter-and-cranbrook-when-will-it-stop/

“Persimmon probe steps up a gear as 100,000 people are asked for their views on the housebuilder and its homes”

Owl says: So, a developer gets another developer to lead an “independent review ” into its practices that chooses its particicipants … you COULD NOT make this up.

“More than 100,000 people are being asked for their views on housebuilder Persimmon as an independent review into the company enters its next stage.

Customers, employees, suppliers, trade bodies, local authorities and civil servants will all be contacted on Tuesday in a bid to gather information about customer care and the quality of the group’s work.

The process, which was launched in April, is set to rigorously assess every aspect of the firm’s construction and inspection regime as it sets out to rebuild its image in the wake of controversy over payouts to executives. …

… Clive Fenton, the former chief executive of fellow housebuilder McCarthy and Stone, is providing assistance to the review as an industry expert.

The consultation period closes on September 16, with findings of the review due by the end of the year. …”

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-7351969/Persimmon-probe-steps-gear-100-000-people-asked-views.html?ito=rss-flipboard

“East Devon District Council gives out £223,000 in emergency housing payments”

The average house price in East Devon is £295,208 (Zoopla).

“Nearly 400 people struggling with their housing costs had to be helped out by East Devon District Council last year, to the tune of £223,400.

A spokeswoman for East Devon District Council said:

“We have helped around 287 customers who claimed housing benefit and 93 customers who were in receipt of Universal Credit housing costs.

“All awards were made to customers in difficulties, whether it was due to the benefit cap, removal of the spare room subsidy, LHA restrictions, in debt, struggling on a low income due to the welfare reforms, or a combination of those mentioned and other circumstances too.

“The awards have been to single people, couples, single parents, families, working-age or pensioners, with or without disability.

“Each customer’s circumstances are looked at on an individual basis.”

The amount spent on Discretionary Housing Payments in East Devon has increased by 23 per cent since they were introduced in 2013-14.

Last year the amount paid out exceeded the Government allocation of funding by £19,000, meaning East Devon had to use money from its benefits budget.

The chief executive of Shelter, Polly Neate, has criticised the system.

“Discretionary Housing Payments are vital in many cases and can be the difference between people losing their home or not, but they shouldn’t be a replacement for a fit-for-purpose welfare system,” she said.

“These payments shouldn’t be needed in the first place – they’re simply a quick fix to structural problems,” she said.

“To solve the underlying crisis for good, the Government must commit to building 3.1 million social homes in the next 20 years, as well as making sure housing benefit is enough to actually cover rents.”

A DWP spokeswoman said the Government spent £23 billion a year helping people in the UK with their housing costs.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/discretionary-housing-payments-in-east-devon-1-6212190

Officers advise councillors not to fight Clinton Devon Estates over withdrawal of Newton Poppleford doctors’ surgery in planning application

EDDC fight CDE – not on your life say officers …unless, of course, councillors instruct them to do so …

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/newton-poppleford-home-appeal-meeting-1-6194658

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – latest housing needs figures shows East Devon bearing greatest load

As at June 2019, ast Devon to bear the brunt of new housing:

Page 10:

https://mk0partnersdevooxv4n.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2019/05/Local-Housing-Need-Assessment-for-the-Greater-Exeter-Area-1st-Edition-June-2019-web.pdf

Big developer CEOs offloading large blocks of their shares …

“Barratt Developments’ boss follows Berkeley founder’s lead and sells more than a third of his shares for £3.3m.

Barratt Developments’ boss has sold more than a third of his shares for £3.3 million.

David Thomas sold 500,000 shares for 660p each. He still has 823,000 Barratt shares worth £5.3 million.

The move came just weeks after Berkeley founder Tony Pidgley cut his stake in his company by a fifth – cashing in £37.2 million of shares.

The sales raise concerns that housing bosses believe the market has peaked.

And Taylor Wimpey warned rising costs and ‘flat’ house prices were putting pressure on its profits.

It reported first half sales of £1.7 billion, almost unchanged from the previous year, and said profits fell from £301 million to £299.8 million. The firm has proposed a 2019 dividend of 18.34p per share.”

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/markets/article-7306879/Barratt-Developments-boss-sells-shares-3-3m.html

“Young Britons believe dream of owning home is over, survey says”

“One of Britain’s biggest mortgage lenders has found that 70% of young people now believe that the homeownership dream is over for their generation.

Having carried out the largest-ever survey of potential first-time buyers, Santander said its own figures suggest less than 25% of 18- to 34-year-olds will be in a position to buy a home by the year 2026.

The Spanish-owned bank said that while 91% of the young people interviewed still aspire to own a home, over two-thirds said it was unlikely to happen unless they received the deposit from their parents. Back in 2006, around half of those under 34 were able to get on the property ladder, the bank said.

The study found that the sharpest fall in first-time buyer homeownership has been among those on middle-incomes – those earning between £20,000 and £30,000 this year. Of the new buyers who had been able to buy, two-thirds reported having household incomes of more than £40,000….”

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jul/31/young-britons-believe-dream-of-owning-home-is-over-survey-says?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other