Go-ahead for 750-home Birmingham scheme despite non-policy compliant 8.5% affordable housing rate

Councillors in Birmingham have given the green light to plans for more than 750 homes near the city centre, despite the applicants proposing an affordable housing contribution of just 8.5 per cent, against a local policy requirement of 35 per cent.

An artist's impression of plans for Soho Wharf in Birmingham. Image: Galliard Homes and Apsley House Capital
An artist's impression of plans for Soho Wharf in Birmingham. Image: Galliard Homes and Apsley House Capital

Developers Galliard Homes and Apsley House Capital secured full planning permission from Birmingham City Council for 650 one- and two-bedroom apartments and 102 two and three-bedroom townhouses on a five hectare site around a mile to the north west of the city centre.

The proposed Soho Wharf scheme, in buildings up to 14 storeys high, also includes 986 square metres of commercial space and involves the demolition of a series of derelict industrial buildings that currently occupy the site. 

The land is allocated for residential development in the 2017 Birmingham Development Plan, which requires a 35 per cent affordable housing contribution unless applicants can demonstrate this would make a development unviable. 

Galliard Homes and Apsley House Capital proposed an 8.5 per cent contribution of "low cost housing", with prices set 20 per below market rates.

In a report to last week's planning committee, officers said: "It is noted that no social rent/affordable rent options are being secured on site and that the offer only relates to a small number of the town housing units."

However, they said an "extensive viability assessment" had been submitted and advised that the proposed 8.5 per cent contribution "would be the option with the greatest benefit to the city".

Officers said: "It is therefore considered, that although the current offer will not cater to a wide group of people, the offer will target struggling first time buyers, enabling them to gain access onto the housing ladder, in a highly sustainable location, close to the city centre … As such, this current offer is considered acceptable."

Recommending approval, officers concluded: "The application proposals would see the development of a large brownfield site, at the edge of the city centre, at a high density, in order to provide a high quality and highly sustainable new residential community."

Last week at the same meeting, plans were also approved for a 1,300-home, 36-storey mixed use scheme in Birmingham city centre, despite concerns about the potential harm to nearby heritage assets and the provision of affordable housing that is less than a third of local policy requirements.

In December, plans for a 51-storey, 670-home tower in Birmingham city centre were approved after Birmingham Airport agreed to increase the height at which planes circle in order to enable construction work.


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