A DEVELOPER has refused to give any cash for affordable housing in the latest twist over plans for a 1901 coal house in Oxford city centre.
Councillors previously hit out at Cantay Investments for putting forward a scheme for nine flats at the site behindCantay House off Park End Street.
This means it just misses a council policy that developments of 10 units or more must make half the homes available as affordable housing. So instead, councillors suggested the firm give cash to spend on affordable housing elsewhere in the city.
But it has refused this as well. Cantay bosses said it could not afford to give the cash, though this has been disputed by an Oxford City Council planning officer. It is the latest twist in a saga over housing at the prominent town centre site, behind Conference Centre Oxford.
The scheme was approved by the west area planning committee in December but has now been “called in” by councillors over the affordable housing issue. Executive board member for city development Colin Cook said: “It is my contention this site is perfectly capable of taking 10 flats.”
A viability assessment which Cantay says shows it does not need to give cash had not been carried out correctly, a report by council planning officers says.
This works by subtracting the sale value of homes from the costs of building a scheme.
If this “residual land value” number is greater than the value of its existing use then the scheme is said to be viable.
But the report says Cantay compared this number to the value of site for student flats, which it also has permission, and not the standard housing residential value.
The report says: “They were not comparing like with like. Evidence submitted is not clear or robust and officers are not satisfied that a departure from the policy position is justified.”
They recommend the entire plan for nine flats be refused and it will be debated by the council's planning review committee on July 25.
The scheme for 45 student flats on the site was approved in January despite concerns it would add to anti-social behaviour.
A Cantay spokesman would not comment on the move.