Plans refused after row over thousands of pounds in developer contributions

John Borland

John Borland - Credit: Archant

AN Ely businessman has had his plans to revamp a former petrol station rejected by East Cambridgeshire District Council because he refused to pay additional developer contributions totalling thousands of pounds.

John Borland submitted plans to convert the former Esso garage, in Cambridge Road, into a two-bedroom flat back in March last year, blaming the competition from supermarket chains for the decision to close the outlet.

According to the plans, the forecourt was to be dismantled and removed while the shop was to be redeveloped into a flat, with parking and access onto Cambridge Road.

Council planning officers were supportive of the scheme and prepared to approve it until the issue of developer contributions, known as Section 106, was raised.

The council said that Mr Borland should pay £4,347 in contributions towards the cost of the community facilities, emergency services and transport provision that would be used by occupiers of the flat.

Mr Borland argued with the council however, that the extra money would leave the redevelopment no longer viable, telling officers: “The viability of the project is already marginal and any additional costs would tip the balance into loss.”

Negotiations took place between the two parties from April to November before the council set a deadline for an agreement to be signed. When no agreement was reached, the authority subsequently refused planning permission.

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In his report, planning officer Scott Jackson said: “Despite working proactively with the applicant to secure the requisite financial contributions, the local planning authority has not been presented with a viability case to demonstrate how the deliverability of the scheme has been impacted upon by infrastructure contributions.

“The applicant has failed to put forward a valid and sound financial viability argument as to why no developer contributions are required in this instance.”