The Corporate Director – Communities presented a report, which sought authorisation to implement a new schedule of charges for issuing a Development Viability Model (DVM) to developers and/or site promoters. The charges will cover the Council’s administrative costs and will enable the submission of viability evidence in support of Candidate Sites and/or Planning Applications.
Following her introduction of the report, she introduced the Group Manager – Planning and Development Services, who took Cabinet through the report
Legislation required the Council to publish its deposit Local Development Plan (LDP) for public inspection and consultation before submitting the LDP to Welsh Government. Sites prioritised and proposed for allocation in the plan would need to be evidenced as deliverable, particularly in relation to financial viability. Planning Policy Wales (Edition 10) and the Development Plans Manual (Edition 3) require site-specific viability appraisals to be undertaken as early as possible during LDP preparation, although no later than deposit (LDPR 17) stage. Proposed site allocations will need to be supported with robust evidence proportionate to their scale and significance in delivering the plan. Further viability testing at the planning application stage should then only be required on an exceptional basis.
He confirmed that, the Council had worked in partnership with other Councils across the South East Region to develop the Development Viability Model (DVM) assessment tool. The DVM has been created by Burrows-Hutchinson Ltd as a comprehensive, user-friendly model that can be used to assess the financial viability of development proposals. It was based on the same, well-received approach used by the Mid and South West Wales Strategic Planning Group. The model would eventually be adopted by all authorities in the Cardiff Capital Region.
The Group Manager – Planning and Development Services explained that the Council could make the DVM available to developers, site promoters, or any other individual/organisation to undertake a financial viability appraisal of a proposed development.
The Council proposed to release the DVM to developers and site promoters in a site-specific locked format with an accompanying user-guide, subject to receipt of a standard fee. This mirrored the approach employed in the Mid and South West Region for consistency. The proposed fee schedule for this service was detailed in paragraph 4.1 of the report (with all charges shown being subject to VAT).
The Group Manager – Planning and Development Services advised, that the fees were intended to cover the Council’s administrative costs of locking and distributing the model, verifying the completed appraisal and providing a high-level review to the developer/site promoter. Therefore, payment of a fee would not serve to guarantee site allocation within the Replacement LDP, or directly result in the granting of planning permission. The fee will enable the Council to consider certain criteria, as illustrated in paragraph 4.2 of the report.
The Cabinet Member – Communities supported the directives contained in the report and the fee charges which were modest and set at a ‘sliding scale’, dependent on the size of the development.
The Cabinet Member – Wellbeing and Future Generations asked whether the fee charges may possibly put of smaller developers who were maybe looking to construct smaller size developments in less viable areas such as BCB valley locations.
The Group Manager – Planning and Development Services whilst acknowledging this point, considered the fees to be modest and less than both a planning application and building regulation fee. He did not think that the fee would therefore discourage smaller developers.
He added that if site developers did not use this model, they would have to use a commercial model instead, which would be more expensive.
The Leader advised that following the fees being introduced, these could be reviewed if it was ascertained they were discouraging developers from constructing new smaller developments, particularly in our valley communities.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet: