MESSAGE TO MEMBERS – THE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
While we wait for West Berkshire Council to make a determination on the planning applications, it might be a good idea to set out the different possible outcomes that might result. We remain determined and our discussions with the planners give us reasons to be cautiously optimistic. However, it is clear that there are other possibilities and in the spirit of openness, we should reveal them.
The first option is the one we have worked towards; the receipt of planning permission for both the clubhouse and the residential area, with the sale of the land providing sufficient funds to build the clubhouse and carry out the necessary course works. This would enable progress towards construction. There is a further option where planning permission would be given, but with certain provisos. For example, WBC might impose timing constraints on the developer related to occupation of the properties and construction of the clubhouse. We have several specialists at our disposal to help us navigate any restrictions the planners may propose.
A second scenario is where we are given planning permission for both sites, but the sale of the land leaves a shortfall of funds for the construction of the clubhouse. In such an event, we would need to review the current design and specifications to identify areas where cost savings may be made.
It is possible that the planners may insist on an element of social housing on the residential site and withhold permission until it is provided. The impact would depend on the amount of social housing required. It is possible that they would try to insist on up to 40% of the properties being social housing, but we hope that in light of the financial viability statement that we have submitted, which is currently being reviewed by the planners, this does not happen. Their review of the financial viability statement will confirm that the applications are made on the basis of an enabling development, which recognises the need for the residential site to generate sufficient funds for the new clubhouse to be built. However, should there be a significant shortfall in the money we receive for the land, then we will need to work with the developer to explore alternative options.
As things stand, we have been given to understand that permission for the clubhouse will not be a problem, but there is, of course, the possibility that planning permission for the residential development will not be given. There is little doubt that, in such a case, the developer would make an appeal. Because of our economic viability argument, we have been advised that permission would very likely be given on appeal, with WBC potentially liable for the costs.
We continue to work closely with the developer and our planning consultant (who is still working within his original fee) to maximise the chances of success, but in the world of planning nothing can be guaranteed.
The Development Sub Committee