COUNCILLORS in Conwy told a developer he must pay £52,000 towards affordable housing after a plea to drop an agreement was thrown out.
A planning application to demolish 57 Marine Drive in Rhos on Sea and replace the building with five self-contained apartments was approved by the council in May last year.
Planning permission was granted on the condition of a Section 106 agreement in which the developer paid £52,000 towards affordable housing.
The developer, Commercial Developments Projects Ltd, agreed.
Since the planning application was granted, the developer has demolished the building but has not started the construction of the new apartments.
Instead, the developer’s agent has contacted the council and has asked for the 106 agreement to be discharged, insisting the project is now unviable due to rising building costs.
Planning officers agreed and advised councillors to discharge the fee.
But the planning committee refused, fearing doing so would set a dangerous precedent during the current cost-of-living crisis.
Consequently, councillors rejected the request at a planning meeting last month.
But because they went against the officers’ advice, the committee had to reaffirm their decision at this week’s meeting at Bodlondeb.
Cllr Mandy Hawkins proposed the agreement remained in place.
“I stand by my original decision to go against officers’ recommendation,” she said.
“This Section 106 money should absolutely not be discharged.
“It is, after all, a legally binding contract and one we as a committee and council should not back down on in order to give those who have entered into the agreement larger profits.
“The much-needed money is directly fed back into our communities.
“Let’s make this clear: the amount of 106 money we are talking about here is just £52,000, which in the grand scheme of it, when you look at the spec of the fittings for these apartments, it is just a drop in the ocean.
“These apartments are not aimed at your average residents in the area.
“They are likely going to be bought by people from out of the area who live in them for part of the year.
“If it is not viable for these companies to build on, leave the land for social landlords to build affordable properties.”
Cllr Stephen Price seconded Cllr Hawkins’ proposal, arguing the developer planned to install £30,000 kitchens as part of the project.
Cllr David Carr disagreed.
“I would like to support the officers’ recommendation,” he said.
“I think Cllr Mandy is making a lot of assumptions we don’t know are actually going to happen.”
But nobody seconded Cllr Carr, and Cllr Hawkins’ proposal not to discharge the 106 agreement was agreed eight votes to one with two abstentions.