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To Bung or not to Bung..The Great Bristol section106 giveaway

November 4, 2011

Great word …bung. Could mean corruption and bribery, or could mean a softer sort of enticement of a financial or material kind not subject to a long jail term. Kind of like a loveable banker or director who demands incentivisation bonuses as well as a fat salary.
The prospect of large amounts of section106 obligations, agreed by builders and council as an essential part of redevelopment of the city, then being dumped in the name of profit by the builders is essentially a bung. A bung of the worst kind. Because these private firms can then go ahead with their vain schemes, make a fast buck, and then leave the rest of us to sort out what makes the city function in terms of schools, traffic, pollution etc. Essentially the builders don’t want to be bothered with this stuff, especially if the head office is in the Soloman Islands or whatever other island next offers the least tax.
Now we have a shambolic procession of massive companies crawling out of the woodwork and claiming that their business model no longer supports the community promises they made when their often controversial plans were given consent. It may well be that these s106 obligations were what swayed the planning committee decisions.
So with the fluctuations in the economy and another recession in the building world, and having demolished large swathes of the city centre or mothballed eyesore projects when the going was good a few years ago, the shareholder and profit driven companies now choose to dump these obligations.
“Let us off our affordable homes obligations, or else…we’ll leave our eyesore bombsites festering in your fine city or worse just you see..” is the heartfelt cry from the multinationals.
And what do our elected representatives do about it? Sweet FA and plenty of hand wringing from the college green planners and councillors and that’s it.
Not good enough councillors…time you took over the driving seat.

The latest bunch of developers claiming poverty is City & Country group who’ve bought the General Hospital. Now they may well have an excellent record of restoration of historic buildings, but one glance at their website and the Evening Toast headlines gets me thinking here we go again…take a look at their glossy General Hospital vision…

The agreed Planning Brief recognises the importance of finding a deliverable and viable solution, and both local and national planning policy accepts that in exceptional circumstances the usual provisions of S106 requirements such as affordable housing cannot be met. **link**

Their initial negotiating goes something like “let us off our affordable housing obligations or we’ll build a massive tower block in the yard”
So who’s going to stick up for the locals in their housing and school requirements or is it another opportunity lost to the plush executive apartements builders and their bully-boy tactics?
And the old warehouse arches by the dockside on the ground floor-oh dear the tesco/sinsburies and costa-packet vultures are probably already cooking up a deal.

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12 Comments
  1. November 4, 2011 10:44 am

    Also:

    “Fundamentally, time is of the essence as time delays cost money. This is because the longer the planning process takes the higher the costs are to maintain and protect the historic buildings. These costs include security to prevent theft and vandalism, maintenance to prevent water ingress and damp issues, insurance and many other factors. An empty building is an exposed building that can quickly deteriorate or be confronted by a catastrophic event such as a fire. As well as the risks to the building and the local area, the additional costs also reduce further the potential for financial contributions and increase the need for further development on site.”….
    **link**
    City and Country Group have a duty to protect the building without pressurising the due planning process. They know all the risks having spent £6m in purchasing. The council must insist they protect this landmark listed building.

  2. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    November 4, 2011 12:24 pm

    “It may well have been the S106 obligations were what swayed the P/Ctte.decisions.” Allthough not applying to the stadium decision, it actually makes a very good point. Is there no mechanism for reviewing the planning decision when the developers renigg on their obligations? Also I thought that S106 monies will be replaced by the Community Investment Levy which I understand will be compulsory. I’ll guarantee that gets “watered down”!

  3. Richard Lane permalink
    November 4, 2011 6:25 pm

    Sacredspring
    I agree with you, it’s wealthy fatcats going back on their agreements. The council don’t have the balls to call their bluff.
    I remember when Loyds Bank wanted to build their regonal HQ on the docks. They called the site a prime Europeon location, then offered to do the minimum possible towards the city and the prime location. I’d have insisted on them providing a leisure centre or something like that for all citizens, instead of a poor mans patio and a few seats.

    Paul
    Hopefully the new community levy will be a better replacement and not get watered down.

  4. November 4, 2011 9:10 pm

    Is there no mechanism for reviewing the planning decision when the developers renigg on their obligations?

    The gov in the form of Grant Shapps housing minister apparantly wrote to local councils in march this year asking them to water down 106 agreements. In order to get much needed stalled housing development going, so the fool says. HA! So the much needed affordable housing is the 106 agreements that promptly get binned, but thats alright for a Tory housing minister-his millionaire mates can get their penthouses with the views to die for.

    Council toothless renegotiation goes something like:
    “we really don’t like bunging you this extra profit at the expense of our voters and it makes us cross. We don’t want your eyesore bombsites festering all over the city as you’ve promised if you don’t get your own way. Your shiny new buildings are very important to say that Bristol is open for money-making and we’re ready to dump or sideline at a moments notice any community responsibility should it come in the way of vested interest”

    I remember when Loyds Bank wanted to build their regonal HQ on the docks. They called the site a prime Europeon location,

    They also attempted the banking equivalent of ethnic cleansing as they tried to uproot staff and families from the South East to the prestigious HQ. Of course they’re hell bent on sacking everyone now. Good vanity project for councillors then, bad vanity project now as banks get found out and the global companies garbage-bin the provincial cities.
    Anyone else heard about massive vanity projects that causes starstruck but otherwise intelligent councillors to take leave of their senses?

  5. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    November 5, 2011 10:20 am

    How about the Eastern European apartment blocks just along the water from Lloyds?

  6. Richard Lane permalink
    November 5, 2011 7:36 pm

    Paul
    More fool anyone for buying them. I want to see good quality developments for housing and the inner city. There are many cases of top quality housing developments in smaller towns, which blend into the environment well.
    I believe that our council, being neither left, middle, or right wing enough, does not have the political muscle to demand better for the city. So they decide to try and please everyone, or risk being ousted from power.
    Do people honestly think that the developers of Finzells reach would leave the remaining plots of the site undeveloped, because of a few affordable dwellings.
    I’m sure the prospective occupants of the already developed blocks would be put off by that.
    All the council have to do is, not sign off the rest of the development until completion of all works, or at least threaten it.

  7. Richard Lane permalink
    November 7, 2011 10:57 pm

    Sacredspring

    I’ve just read your take on this subject again and it’s no different than all your other biassed opinions towards anyone trying to provide something for someone else, whilst at the same time, making a profit, which enables them to continue providing things for others.
    Many a builder has gone bankrupt trying to develop old property, due to a of lack of profit.
    This actual development is not the same as others such as Finzells reach. It was agreed there, that affordable housing would be provided, and then was renaged on. If this company try to renogotiate the deal to omit those agreements, only then would it be similar.

    This is predominantly a refurbishment of existing buildings, with a new build to provide the profit, which enables the S106 payments. As I understand it, the bigger that new build, the more profit, the more in S106 payments. Slightly different than your portrayal of the situation.

    The reality is that nobody carrying out an exclusive development on a site that’s cost millions, would want to put affordable housing in that scheme, for the reason that it devalues the scheme. It’s an idealistic notion to think that mixing exclusiive and affordable housing could work at every location.

    The company are trying to negotiate a deal with the council, before commiting to any agreements, totally different than at Finzells. If the council don’t agree with their costings and predictions, they don’t have to accept it, or give planning permission.
    As the company have already bought or agreed to buy the building, that puts the council in a reasonably strong position, to enforce their bribes/tax in the form of the S106 payments for the development, onto the company.

    This is a question of balancing the pros and cons of the development. If companies don’t make profits, they don’t and would not be able to carry out these developments in the first place, so the buildings would lie derelict anyway.

    I can’t be bothered to write any more, as your just full of anti capitalist shit. Fuck off down to college green with the rest of your dimwit smelly mates and spread your lies there. Having said that, I agree with some of their sentiments.

  8. bobs permalink
    November 8, 2011 1:50 pm

    Richard Lane -November 4, 2011 6:25 pm

    Sacredspring- I agree with you. It’s wealthy fatcats going back on their agreements. The council don’t have the balls to call their bluff.

    Richard Lane – November 7, 2011 10:57 pm

    Sacredspring- I’ve just read your take on this subject again and it’s no different than all your other biassed opinions towards anyone trying to provide something for someone else …

    just bizarre

  9. Richard Lane permalink
    November 8, 2011 8:32 pm

    BobS

    Which one of me is writing this time?
    The bizzare thing is, that you don’t understand what’s happening here. I said that I’ve just read his comments again.
    After reading his comments and compairing the two most recent topics, I discovered that this scenario is different from the first. So in plain english for you, I retract my comment about agreeing with him on this particular subject. But I agree with him regarding the Finzells reach saga, where the developers have reneged on their agreement.

  10. Richard Lane permalink
    November 12, 2011 9:37 pm

    Bit Quiet aint it?
    Can’t we have another topic, say about who has applied for a judicial review at Ashton Vale or something?
    Wouldn’t it be ironic if that person turned out to be a Rovers supporter, just trying to stop a stadium for his rivals, instead of trying to get a village green for the community?

  11. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    November 13, 2011 10:06 am

    Hi Rich.
    Just off to watch the Rememberance Day parade at the Centre. Hope to see you there. I’m the one wearing the red poppy!

  12. Richard Lane permalink
    November 13, 2011 9:42 pm

    Hi paul

    I was there, well actually both of me was there, were you wearing a dark coat?
    It was nice seeing so many people there, with a good amount of young people. Bit disturbing that very few from the minority groups join in though, apart from those in the actual parade.

    I had a lovely roast dinner in the Bank, followed by a few pints in the company of old soldiers, I think.

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