Councillor Julie Cattell
THE public will be able to see what profit developers expect on projects under consideration from next year, if councillors approve.
The move to an “open book” process for the planning committee is scheduled for discussion at January’s meeting of the transport development and culture committee.
Brighton and Hove City Council’s planning committee chairwoman Julie Cattell, who has proposed the change, said it would improve the city’s negotiating position in light of recent failures to get developers to make 40 per cent of new homes affordable.
She said: “We want this because we’ve had a lot of developers coming to us half way through the process, saying they can’t now afford the 40 per cent affordable figure because the scheme isn’t viable.
“Then we ask them to demonstrate viability and it goes to the independent district valuer service.
“But that happens quite late in the process and it leads to a lot of criticism of decisions we make at planning committee.
“So having it up front at the stage where they make the application means it’s open and transparent.
“It will help us get a better understanding of where the developers are coming from and puts us in a better negotiating position.”
She said that during preliminary conversations, many of the city’s most prominent developers had already said they would be happy to work “open book”, but that without a policy change there is no mechanism in place to have them share their profit projections.
Liberal Democrat campaigner Carrie Hynds, who submitted a 100-signature petition on the matter to full council earlier this month, said: “If adopted, the proposal to have ‘open book’ viability statements is a welcome step towards the increased transparency and scrutiny we called for.
“It will help ensure that every single development benefits those already living and working in our city.”
This week the council signed its much-delayed joint venture scheme with developer Hyde, which will see 1,000 homes built in the city over the coming two to three years.
Half the money for the £120 million venture will come from Hyde and half from Brighton and Hove City Council, in part through the same loan process which funded the i360.
Half the homes will be for rent and 500 will be available for shared ownership, but prices will be pegged to an affordable percentage of the living wage.
Source: The Argus