Developer makes second attempt to escape cheap housing pledge on Sheffield site

The paper mill closed in 2014
The paper mill closed in 2014
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A developer is attempting for the second time to remove the need to build cheap houses on a former industrial site on the edge of Sheffield.

Commercial Estates Group, or CEG, was granted permission to put up 320 homes on the old Oughtibridge Mill land in October last year.

CEG wants to build 320 homes.

CEG wants to build 320 homes.

As part of the permission, the developer was told 10 per cent of the floor space had to be ‘affordable housing’.

During the application process, the developer tried to take advantage of a policy called vacant building credit, VBC.

The policy gives financial incentives to developers who replace an empty building with a new one.

CEG argued that VBC should apply to the Oughtibridge site, and said affordable housing was not needed because the new homes had a smaller footprint than the old mill.

Oughtibridge Mill

Oughtibridge Mill

Council officers disagreed.

CEG asked the council in March this year to remove the affordable housing condition.

Councillors rejected the attempt, accusing the developer of making a U-turn.

Coun Chris Rosling Josephs said: “We want affordable houses built for the young people of this city. We want good quality houses.

“When we do deals, we do it in good faith. And when developers come back and say they can’t do it, there are times we get frustrated.”

But CEG remains convinced that VBC applies to the Oughtibridge Mill site - and no affordable houses are required - and has this week applied to remove the condition for the second time.

The developer has also appealed the council’s original refusal.

The firm’s head of planning Steve McBurney said VBC was brought in by the Government to incentivise development of brownfield sites, which was ‘far more risky and expensive to deliver due to site clearance, ground decontamination and infrastructure delivery costs’.

He added: “As Oughtibridge Mill is an important brownfield site with large existing industrial buildings VBC is clearly applicable.”

Andrew Wood, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England - which opposed the initial planning application - said: “The developer is persistent in trying to avoid providing affordable housing, and so far Sheffield Council has shown resolve by not letting them off the hook.

“We need brownfield sites to be redeveloped, but if that happens without the desperate need for affordable housing being addressed, that’s a bad outcome for Sheffield.”

The paper mill closed for good in 2014.

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