A PLANNING agreement between a social housing group and Swansea Council for 99 new homes has been changed after concerns were raised by the former about the financial viability of the scheme.
Swansea Council’s planning committee approved the amendments by eight votes to two, with two abstentions.
The application angered many residents in Gowerton who felt Pobl Group, which will commission the new estate on the former Gorwydd colliery, should have known it was a complex site.
The housing provider said the abnormal costs required to develop the land could not have been foreseen.
Pobl Group already had outline consent to build 32 open market properties, 34 social rent ones, and 33 intermediate affordable ones.
Its latest application to amend the planning agreement led to 151 objections.
One of the changes to the agreement involves a particular type of clause for the 34 social rented properties.
Pobl Group will also contribute £96,416 towards Welsh-medium schools in the area but, unlike what was previously set out in the agreement, nothing towards Gowerton Primary School. This is because council officers now say that Gowerton Primary School will have 26 unfilled places by 2022, meaning the school could take all but one of the new English medium primary pupils the development would be expected to generate.
Another change is that Pobl Group will pay all of its contributions once the 50th house is occupied, instead of 50% when the first one was occupied and 50% when the 50th was.
A highways contribution is also less than previously set out – from £35,000 to £20,000, while a further £20,000 will go towards the management of Killay Marsh local nature reserve.
Speaking at the committee meeting, objector Alex Williams said he was annoyed because Gowerton primary was, in his view, struggling capacity-wise.
“My child is in a class of 31 – a class where they cannot all do maths at the same time as there are not enough chairs and tables, and a class that only has a classroom as the school has turned a staffroom into teaching space,” he said.
“As a parent, I see every year the over-subscription of the school and the struggles and appeals parents have getting their children placed there.”
Mr Williams also claimed that comments from the council’s education department had only been uploaded onto the planning website after the consultation period for the application had ended. He said an officer had told him there had been “a glitch”.
Councillors had turned down Pobl Group’s previous application to alter the planning agreement, and once again expressed frustration at how the education sums had been calculated.
“Who exactly does the calculation?” said Cllr Peter Black.
Cllr Richard Lewis said: “If I was doing this in business, I would be out of business pretty quick.”
Cllr Mary Jones said she and her colleagues were “hamstrung”.
The vote took place after an explanation was given about the education contribution, and Pobl Group will need to submit a further application in due course covering the scheme’s access, appearance and layout.