That the payment of monies from the Peach Place redevelopment to the Local Planning Authority be agreed in accordance with the viability thresholds and values identified in Appendix A to the report.
Before the item was introduced Councillor Ferris challenged whether the information in the Part 2 sheet in the agenda was actually exempt and should therefore be in the public domain. His reasoning was that under the Local Government Act 1972 Schedule 12A Part 2 regulation 9, “information is not exempt information if it relates to proposed development for which the local planning authority may grant itself planning permission pursuant to regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992”. Councillor Ferris reminded the meeting that the Planning Committee had previously considered a planning application related to the Peach Place development which had been submitted by the Council.
Councillor Ferris also brought up a similar issue that had arisen during a call-in relating to the Peach Place project which he felt fell under the same criteria and asked that that information be reviewed as well.
Advice was sought on the matter and it was agreed, by both the Executive and Councillor Ferris, that the report would be considered at the meeting as whether or not the information in the Part 2 sheets was exempt did not affect the decision the Executive was being asked to make and if the matter was deferred to a later meeting this would delay the renting of the properties which would have cost implication for the Council. In relation to Councillor Ferris’s challenge it was agreed that further Legal advice would be sought outside the meeting and if it was found that the information in the Part 2 sheet was not exempt then it would be released.
The Executive considered a report relating to the payment of infrastructure contributions from the Peach Place redevelopment, which included Market Place, Peach Street, Rose Street and Rose Street car park.
The Executive Member for Regeneration reminded Members that in January 2015 it was agreed that an updated scheme viability appraisal would be brought back to the Executive in advance of the first payment period, for approval of the release of monies to the Local Planning Authority. A re-evaluation would be undertaken before the first occupation of residential units to see if they needed to be amended with any market changes that had occurred during that period of time. So with that in mind a new viability study has been undertaken and some of that data has been included in the Part 2 sheet. It was noted that as the Council is the developer it cannot enter into a traditional S106 agreement so it had been agreed that instead it would make contributions toward offsite mitigations in line with other Council developments.
Councillor Haitham Taylor felt that the development had made a positive contribution to the town centre and also to the wider community. As well as being able to contribute mitigation payments to the provision of suitable alternative greenspace it had also contributed to the strategic assessment monitoring of Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area.
Councillor Kaiser stated that given house prices in Wokingham were so expensive, and it was difficult to get key staff to work in the area, he was pleased to see key worker homes in the town centre. He was also pleased that a contribution was being made to green spaces as well.
[NOTE: The Legal advice received after the meeting did not concur with Councillor Ferris’s interpretation of Regulation 9 above which only comes into effect when the local planning authority (i.e. the Council) is granting itself planning permission. The item under consideration at the Executive meeting would not have resulted in the Council granting itself planning permission.
However having reviewed the information contained in the Part 2 sheet it had been agreed that the information could not be justified as being exempt. The information has since been published on the Council’s website as Appendix A.]
RESOLVED that the payment of monies from the Peach Place redevelopment to the Local Planning Authority be agreed in accordance with the viability thresholds and values identified in Appendix A to the report.