Wigan councillor fumes at housing firm over funding

Coun Steve Jones
Coun Steve Jones

A councillor says his ward has missed out on £250,000 in funding, which should have been coughed up by a huge new housing development.

Bryn independent Coun Steve Jones said Bellway Homes owed the sum to Wigan Council as part of its new Ashton development called The Avenue, under Section 106 of the Town Planning Act.

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The council, however, has hit back, saying Coun Jones claims were incorrect, adding that it was “unviable” for Bellway to pay such a high sum.

Section 106 money is given to councils by developers during planning talks and is intended to be used for social and community improvements.

These agreements are negotiated to help make new home schemes more attractive to buyers. The money can be used to help fund affordable housing as well as roads, parks and youth services.

Coun Jones said the money would have been of huge benefit to the local area and had already outlined several uses for the funds.

“Whether we are for or against this development is irrelevant, it is already going ahead,” he said.

“But one good thing we would’ve got out of this is the money that each developer must pay into the ward they are building in.”

He went on: “With this money, we were going to improve kids’ play areas and really try to improve our community.”

Marie Bintley, assistant director for growth and housing, said: “National planning policy requires councils to recognise that not all developments are able to contribute towards Section 106 if it makes a scheme unviable.

“Councillor Steve Jones is not correct to suggest that Bryn has lost out on £250,000 of section 106 funding as during the planning application process an independent evaluation of the site works considered that the development was not viable if there were any requirement for affordable housing or other financial contributions.

“This independent assessment was considered by the planning committee and approved in December 2017.”