Details of a major S106 legal agreement has been revealed after a delay led to concerns that details were being hidden.
There have been concerns that the public was being ‘kept in the dark’ over details of funds to be allocated to the Cirencester community by a property developer.
Last January Cotswold District councillors voted through plans to approve Bathurst Development Ltd’s (BDL) outline planning application for 2,350 homes in Chesterton.
As part of the proposed development plans, an outline S106 agreement was put forward which would see the developers providing a financial contribution towards improvements to the town.
The initial proposed agreements discussed last year included a £100,000 contribution for town centre improvements, £500,000 for town centre parking and a new primary school for 630 pupils.
Speaking at the time a spokesperson for applicants BDL, Jeremy Handel, said that although the signing of the S106 legal agreement which could take up to six months, it would “unlock £100m worth of investment in new infrastructure.”
However, one year later, with the official S106 agreement not yet signed or revealed concerned residents have been questioning whether the proposed funds would materialise, after the deadline for it to be finalised had been extended five times.
Patrick Moylan from Save Our Cirencester said that there were questions that needed to be answered: “My question around this is simple. At what point, if any, in the forthcoming process of signature/agreement/engrossment does the public get to see, comment, make representations and at what point do things become a fair accomplishment as far as the public is concerned ?”
In response, Cotswold District Council leader Tony Berry said that although the process had been long it was simply due to the complexity of the project, and would benefit the town enormously.
“The deadline has now been extended to the end of March and I feel very comfortable that we will hit that deadline,” Cllr Berry said.
“It has been an incredibly complex project and officers have worked hard alongside the developers to ensure that the town will benefit, and the infrastructure will be improved to support the new development.”
Included in the agreement is an agreed public transport subsidy figure of nearly £2 million, and that a new primary school will be built to teach the children of the families set to move into the 2,350 new homes.
The school will be built in stages and is expected to start to begin to take in pupils as soon as 500 homes are occupied on the new development.
During the first few years of the sites development the children be welcomed into existing schools in the area, such as Chesterton Primary School.
Cotswold District Council confirm that they expect this to be around 43 children.
In the third year an anticipated 93 youngsters will attend the new school, but on a temporary site.
The new school will subsequently relocate to the permanent building. Any temporary buildings would remain as a legacy benefit for the host school.
Officers from the council say that the plan to phase the building of the school in this way represents good practice, and will prevent problems such as difficulty accessing the site while other building work is being completed as well as the security issues that an isolated building would bring.
They also note that there needs to be a certain number of pupils to justify the number of staff to run the school.
Additionally, space has been allocated for a new health centre to serve the community and this has been donated by the developers.
The site safeguarded for the new GP surgery will be larger than the needs of the development’s new population and the delivery of the project is currently being outlined in discussions between the landowner, the GP practice and the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Council officers say that they ‘remain committed to on-site delivery’, and the section 106 agreement makes proper provision for this.
However, if the CCG and existing GP practices within the town decide to provide additional services at some other location in Cirencester, the development will be required to make a proportionate financial contribution towards that solution.
Details of a new sewage works treatment centre to serve the needs of the development have also been confirmed, and additionally 800 existing houses will have their sewage redirected to the sewage centre, in order to alleviate some of the pressure on the current system.
The Chesterton development will be connected to the Shorncote Treatment Works by an entirely new sewer, funded by the development and Thames Water, following the line of Spratsgate Lane.
A condition has been included that the overall drainage strategy agreed with Thames Water will have to be approved by CDC before first occupation.
Officers say that the new connection is also intended to benefit existing properties, but as work is still in progress on that aspect of Thames Water’s approach, it is too early to say how many existing properties might benefit.
Developers have also pledged to tackle parking issues in Cirencester by making a financial contribution of £500,000 towards the provision of additional parking facilities for Cirencester town centre.
A further contribution of £100,000 will be made towards other improvements to ‘the public realm’ in the town – although no specific details for what this will entail have been provided.
Finally it has been revealed that 30 per cent, or 705, of the homes built will be allocated with affordable housing, together with 60 dwellings for elderly people, as well as custom and self-build housing.
As the planning obligations are still as per the original agreement reported to the council members the plans will not got to council vote, and are expected to be outlined in full on the Cotswold District Council website in full, within a matter of weeks.
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