Service: Viability in Planning
Client: South Ribble Borough Council
South Ribble Borough Council (SRBC) instructed Continuum to assess the Financial Viability Assessment (FVA) submitted in support of a planning application for major residential development. The planning application was for up to 950 homes and 18.09 acres of commercial space. The existing brownfield site had previously been used for motor racing.
The applicant submitted a viability case in support of their application which was reviewed by a consultant on behalf of SRBC. In early 2019 an agreement was made regarding viability that the site could only viably provide 13.8% (177 units) of the overall housing proposed at the site as affordable. SRBC sought a review of the viability agreement as they considered a site of this size should be contributing more to the needs of the area and instructed Continuum to review both the submitted FVA and the subsequent review.
Continuum undertook a forensic assessment of all information pertaining to the viability case and advised SRBC to reopen discussions with the applicant and their viability consultant. From review it became clear that with a different approach to the Benchmark Land Value (BLV) the scheme would be able to make a significantly greater provision of affordable housing.
A detailed report was written which lead to discussions with both SRBC and the applicant. The main issue concerned the calculation of BLV, with the actual price paid for the land being considerably less than the BLV assumed in the submitted FVA. It was concluded that the BLV could not be any higher than the price paid for the land, which had been fixed price in the option agreement, as this was considered to represent the minimum incentive to a landowner. Continuum produced an appraisal which showed the scheme could support its full affordable housing position if the fixed price in the option agreement was inputted into the appraisal.
The result of Continuum’s involvement was that the applicant agreed to provide 285 affordable units (30%) which reflected policy compliance.