Aveley Football Club’s community contribution to be decided

THURROCK planning councillors are being recommended not to cut the community contribution owed by Aveley FC and developers Persimmon Homes after the cost of developing the club’s new ground soared beyond initial expectations.

That is despite the club saying refusal is going to put the club’s operation and business plan under a lot of pressure and will compromise the on-going sustainability of the community facility.

In the summer Aveley moved from their old ground at Mill Lane, which is currently being developed with more than 100 new homes, to a purpose-built stadium nearby called Parkside.

As part of the planning permission, Aveley and Persimmon agreed to pay Thurrock Council £522,000 as a contribution to local services. This is known as a Section 106 (s106) mitigation payment). That figure was discounted to ensure the viability of the scheme – it should have been £570,000. The council also waived the need for any affordable housing to be included in the development scheme.

However, the development of the ground costs considerably more than expected due to problems with the land and what are described as ‘market forces within the construction industry’ so the club and Persimmon are seeking a further discount.

The next meeting of the council’s planning committee on Thursday, 11 January will hear the land remediation costs were expected to be between £259,000 and £488,000. The figure of £448,000 was used in the original viability assessment but the actual cost proved to be £546,000.

With other increased costs and a requirement by the developers to make a 20 percent profit, it is estimated the cost of the project is £1,064,000 over budget and Thurrock Council are now being asked to cut the community contribution to £311,520 – a difference of £210,480.

However, planning officers say the financial argument from the football club is flawed as it is the residential development of the Mill Road site that generates the requirement for a community payment.

A report to councillors says: “At this stage, there is no suggestion that the viability of the residential development is in question and it is only the viability of the replacement football facilities which is promoted by the applicant in support of the application.

It is the residential development which generates the payment, not the football facilities. There is no provision in the agreement to reduce the s106 mitigation payment as a result of increased costs for the replacement football facilities. The fundamental planning purpose and aim of the agreement is to ensure that the impacts of the residential development on education provision etc. are mitigated.

“To reduce the mitigation payment because the football club has encountered additional costs serves no planning purpose as the pressure on infrastructure from the residential development remains unchanged. To this end, the Council’s published Pupil Place Plan (2017-21) predicts the two primary schools closest to the site (Aveley and Kenningtons) will continue to be over capacity in future years. Consequently, the mitigation contribution will be required to address the new demands on the already oversubscribed local primary school provision.

“For these reasons, it is considered that the already negotiated contribution is demonstrably required.”

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