Lincolnshire County Council has denied it will be put into a budget deficit after almost £720k less developers contributions were approved for a major housing estate.
The 650-home Holbeach expansion plans were approved last Wednesday.
South Holland District Council’s planning committee approved the county’s request to reduce the amount developers would be requested to pay towards local infrastructure
The revised application will also reduce the amount of affordable housing.
The plans for land between the A17 and A151 were previously approved at outline stage in 2016, following a joint application by Lincolnshire County Council and Messrs RH and AM Goodley.
It would have provided 33.3% of the build as affordable homes and £5,006,751 towards education, health and roads – including an attempt to recoup £720,000 spent on the nearby Peppermint Junction works.
However, the county later completed a viability assessment arguing market conditions had become “more difficult and uncertain”.
The authority instead offered to build just 20% affordable homes (around 130 homes) and contribute £4,286,511 – £720,040 less than originally asked for.
SHDC officers though asked for £4,343,950, which would allow for some contribution to highways works at Peppermint Junction.
During the meeting, Councillor Roger Gambba-Jones said urban extensions were a “challenge” adding: “What you set out to achieve at the start is seldom what you deliver at the end”.
“What’s even more peculiar in this situation is the fact that it is the landowner [LCC] who has had to propose taking money off themselves,” he said.
“Their proposal is to not effectively pay themselves back from this development and not to give themselves all of the money back from the building of Peppermint Junction.”
Councillors expressed concerns that there were no guarantees over funding or affordable housing in the future.
However, they accepted the terms presented to them by officers and approved the changes.
Following the meeting, Councillor Richard Davies said there was always a risk of developer contribution being different to expected.
“Lack of developer contributions is considered a risk for all schemes of this nature and is closely monitored by LCC,” he said.
“For Peppermint Junction, we have not built in developer contributions to the cost so in reality no budget deficit will occur.”
He said the business case would have made assumptions for income and said the project would benefit the nearby Holbeach Food Enterprise.
The FEZ aims to create around 59,000sqm of new business space, capable of supporting over 2,000 jobs.
The University of Lincoln also plans to move part of its existing Holbeach campus to a new, purpose-built facility on site.
“As a result of the wider benefits, we feel strongly that the works to Peppermint Junction will be of benefit to the county, moving forward,” said Councillor Davies.
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