Towards the end of January we sent an email to all councillors on behalf of the members of SPP summarising our concerns about the financial viability calculations. Our comments were based on the Betteridge & Milsom calculations published in the summer of 2018 shortly before the determination of the planning application. We were aware that there is an updated version of this but as it is not in the public domain we were not able to refer to it.
A number of the councillors acknowledged receipt of the email. Today we received a response from Dr Priest (who was not copied in on the email) rebutting our comments.
In the interests of openness we are posting that response here. Dr Priest’s responses refers to a more detailed critique of the financial viability calculations which was submitted to officers by Dr Burrell.
The council still seem to missing the point that certain costs have been costs have been omitted because they have fallen down the gap between the B&M calculation and the Savill’s valuation. The details of the Savill’s valuation are not in the public domain so it is difficult to take this any further at this stage.
Worryingly, in response to our point 6 about the inclusion of the Imperial Green off site affordable housing s106 monies as income of the scheme the council say “It should be remembered that the basis for this proposal is that it is an enabling scheme.” (They mean to financially enable the new leisure centre). In other words, despite all the promises that this project will provide affordable housing, it is unlikely to provide as much as it should ie that due from Imperial Green plus the 30% from the PP project itself.
The council do concede that the financial viability of the scheme could alter as the project progresses and this is the main reason that we are so concerned that one the recommendations for next Wednesday’s council meeting is to delegate delivery of the project to the officers . This will mean next to no democratic or public oversight for a project whose costs are still very much just at the indicative stage.
The council have completely ignored the section of Dr Burrell’s report where he discusses costs that he believes have been underestimated or omitted from the financial viability calculations.