Service: Viability in Planning
Client: Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council
Size: 400 units
Trafford Council instructed Continuum to provide expert witness services and viability advice at a planning appeal pursuant to a major residential development comprising 400 homes at a greenfield site known as Warburton Lane.
Continuum reviewed the original viability case submitted in support of the planning application at Warburton Lane in May 2019. The offer made regarding planning obligations by the applicant was zero, it was considered by Trafford Council that this offer was not supported by robust evidence.
The applicant sought to appeal the planning decision on the grounds of non-determination in December 2019. As part of the planning appeal process the appellant offered circa £2,590,000 in S106 contributions though the proposed affordable housing provision remained at nil. The planning inquiry took place between 19th October 2020 to 13th November 2020.
Continuum undertook a forensic assessment of the viability case and provided support to both Trafford Council and their Barrister (QC) on all matter pertaining to viability in planning, regularly attending meetings and identifying the key areas of viability challenge.
We opened dialogue with the appellant’s viability consultant in order to produce a joint Statement of Common Ground (SOCG). A proof of evidence on viability and subsequent rebuttal were also produced for the planning inquiry
Continuum Director, Murray Lloyd, provided evidence at the planning inquiry as an expert witness and Continuum supported Trafford Council’s Barrister (QC) at the inquiry during their cross examination of the viability and cost consultant acting on behalf of the appellant.
The key issues considered at the planning inquiry related to the calculation of benchmark land value (BLV) and the estimation of sales values. Continuum produced an appraisal, which showed the scheme could support a compliant affordable housing provision. The position demonstrated in the appraisal undertaken by Continuum showing that the scheme could support its full planning policy contributions, was supported by Trafford Council and their barrister (QC).
The inspector found that the applicant had assumed costs too high and values too low, this was seen to effectively reduce the developers risk at the expense of the public purse. The overall conclusion was the scheme provided sufficient residual value to fund 45% affordable housing and full S106 contributions.
For several reasons including that of viability, the appeal was dismissed by the inspector and costs awarded to Trafford Council.