320-home Manchester scheme approved despite lack of viability case to justify 10% affordable housing rate

Greater Manchester councillors have approved plans for 320 homes and 62,000 square metres of employment space, despite the proposed scheme's failure to make a policy-compliant contribution to affordable housing, public transport or community facilities.

An aerial view of the Carrington Village site. Image: HIMOR
An aerial view of the Carrington Village site. Image: HIMOR

Property company HIMOR has secured outline permission for the Carrington Village scheme, which is to be developed on 48 hectares of brownfield land that forms part of a site formerly occupied by oil firm Shell.

The application site forms part of the wider 670-hectare Carrington Strategic site, described by Trafford Council officers as "one of the largest previously developed sites in the Greater Manchester Region" and "a significant opportunity for redevelopment". 

Officers recommended approval, despite advising councillors that the proposed scheme does not include the desired level of affordable housing provision or improvements to public transport and sports facilities as required by the council’s local plan.

HIMOR proposed a 10 per cent affordable housing contribution, well below the 40 per cent level sought by local planning policy.

Officers said a viability assessment had not been provided to justify the lower contribution.

"It is disappointing that the applicant has not sought to provide a planning practice guidance compliant viability case as required by policy and national guidance," officers said.

"No justification has been given and no weight can be given to the applicant’s viability case. This weighs significantly against the scheme in the planning balance."

Furthermore, officers advised: "Carrington is not currently considered to be a sustainable location due to its physical isolation and poor transport links, including limited public transport, and lack of community facilities to support the proposed development."

However, they noted that the proposed scheme includes a "safeguarded movement corridor" for the proposed Carrington Relief Road (CRR), which would be subject to a separate planning application.

"The ability to bring forward the CRR in future is a significant public benefit that carries substantial weight," they said.

Officers noted that the council’s 2012 core strategy is considered out of date, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework, and that the council is unable to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply.

However, they said the principle of the proposed development is deemed acceptable by the 2012 core strategy and that the scheme would "make a significant contribution" towards the 1,560 homes allocated in the wider strategic location.

The site is within the proposed New Carrington allocation in the draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and is identified for significant residential and employment development and associated infrastructure, officers said.

They also cited an extant permission granted in August 2017 for up to 725 homes and 45,450 square metres of employment space on land that "includes a large part of the current application site".

At the same meeting, councillors approved plans for a "wellbeing resort" on a 12-hectare site currently occupied by an exhibition centre.

Last week, councillors in Salford approved plans for 1,521 homes and 3,975 square metres of commercial space in a cluster of three skyscrapers in the city's Greengate area, despite the proposed development containing no affordable housing.

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