A council is seeking legal advice after it told a housing developer that its offer of compensation for not building an outdoors sports area on a new development was short – by nearly £250,000.
Dereham Town Council claims Persimmon Homes has miscalculated a so-called ‘commuted sum’ for an outdoor sports space it will now not be building at its proposed 100-home development east of Westfield Road, in Toftwood.
The plan currently includes a children’s play space and BMX track on-site, but Persimmon Homes have acknowledged that it has fallen short of the 3,000sqm of sports space needed to meet Breckland council’s requirements.
Persimmon has offered £76,548 to cover the cost of creating and maintaining an outdoor sports space of that size elsewhere in the town and a spokesman said it is “confident” it has calculated the figure correctly.
But Dereham Town Council clerk Tony Needham said the figure should be £305,474, as he claimed that the value of unprovided land should be included too.
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In a statement, Mr Needham said: “If the developers are unable to provide the correct amount of playing space on-site then the town must be properly compensated financially so that improved play provision can be provided elsewhere in the town.
“It is felt that Persimmons Homes may not have interpreted Breckland Council’s policies correctly and because the possible error is so large it was felt that it was worth obtaining legal advice on the matter to be sure.”
In response, a spokesman for Persimmon Homes Anglia said: “We have liaised extensively with Breckland Council on our plans for development at Dereham and are confident that the planning officer is satisfied with how the off-site outdoor sport contribution has been calculated.
“Our proposals will deliver 100 much-needed homes for local people, including 25 designated as affordable homes.
“In addition to meeting the policy requirement for play space on the development and the financial contribution to offsite outdoor sport provision, we will also be installing a BMX pump track facility on site, as specifically requested by Dereham Town Council.”
The application will be discussed at a meeting of Breckland’s planning committee on December 14 and a decision is due by December 23.
The developer had already amended its affordable housing offer for the project in May last year, reducing it from 40 homes to 25.
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