Wigan Council refute claims that Bryn is missing out on cash

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall

An opposition politician is stepping up his quest to find out why a developer will not have to make community payments for a large estate.

Coun Steve Jones and his fellow Bryn independent councillor, Andrew Collinson, met Wigan Council to discuss why Bellway Homes will not have to pay section 106 money for its construction project in the area.

Coun Jones is unhappy that the report submitted to the town hall by an independent adviser explaining why the development, The Avenue, should be exempt from the payments, which was approved by the planning committee, is commercially confidential.

He wants elected representatives to be able to scrutinise the reasons put forward, saying Bellway should make a point of giving something back to Bryn due to the high level of opposition to the house-building.

Wigan Council has confirmed assessments came to the conclusion the developers would not have to fund improvements to the Bryn area.

Coun Jones said: “It was a great meeting and Wigan Council have been brilliant allowing us to come in and see them. My problem is no-one is allowed to see the report saying in detail why they shouldn’t pay.

“I’m now writing to the legal department to show me the legislation because the whole point of being a councillor is to scrutinise the council.

“The only reason we’ve got is to do with work on the entrance to the site and work on the foundations. We should be able to see the evidence.

“The objection was very strongly opposed and I feel the people of Bryn have got a poor deal whichever way you look at it. The original first phase had plans for a pavilion but because that part was then sold to Bellway they don’t have to do that.”

Coun Jones believes Bellway could have had to pay up to £1,800 per home, saying this is roughly the average for section 106 payments elsewhere in the borough, or avoided the whole row by committing to affordable homes.

He says he is determined to see the evidence on section 106 payments due to the very high level of public opposition in Bryn to Bellway building hundreds of houses.

However Wigan Council insisted said Bryn had not lost out on money due to the payments being waived at an early stage and confirmed Bellway told the town hall building cheaper houses was not an option either.

Marie Bintley, assistant director for growth and housing, said: “We have met with Coun Jones to discuss the application and explain the process. National planning policy requires councils to recognise that not all developments are able to contribute towards section 106 if it makes a scheme unviable.

“Coun 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.”