A developer has warned that building a community centre and shop first in a major 3,700-home project could prove financially and practically difficult.
It follows councillors’ calls for a community to be built in the Spitalgate Heath garden village “from the beginning” to allow it to “grow with strength and spirit”.
The amendments to the recommendations say no more than 500 homes can be built before the community centre and a shop must be started, and no more than 1,000 can be built before they are completed.
Buckminster Management director William Lee argued that by bringing these forward, it would make the project less sustainable and viable when it’s reassessed.
This could result in fewer “additional” affordable houses to the 10% agreed – it was hoped that, if successful, additional Government funding could add an extra 11% of affordable housing – a total of 777 units.
There are also practical problems with the buildings’ location in regards to both the housing and the planned larger shopping centre.
“On other sites, convenience stores and community centres have been brought forward but the difference here is that it’s a large area – the “local centre” within which the shopping centre will sit is out in the middle of a very large development,” said Mr Lee, adding: “The first phase of housing will likely be built out from the road.”
“So these facilities will be some distance away and there is an issue about practicality of delivering those facilities in places which are convenient to the first residents.”
He admitted the conditions could not now be challenged, but said the developers would be looking closely at the wording of planning conditions which are yet to be fully signed off.
“There may be a way of delivering those facilities which are fundamentally aimed at enhancing and enabling community interaction in a way that can satisfy residents,” he said.
Mr Lee said a further amendment which would put the plans under further scrutiny from three cabinet members were “understandable” given the “unusually long” period of the development – 25 to 30 years.
The developers of the garden village must now wait for the signing off of agreed conditions, which could take up to six months, and the third phase of the Grantham Southern Relief Road to be built before they can begin in earnest.
However, Mr Lee said there may be a “soft-start” as they can build 250 homes before the relief road is completed.
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