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‘Short-changed’ over Gravesend Heritage Quarter plan cash

Gravesham’s civic society has accused the council of “selling Gravesend down the river” claiming leaked documents reveal cash promised by developers is less than originally thought.

Urban Gravesham secured a copy of a financial agreement, not officially signed off yet, which reveals the amount of money originally promised by developer Edinburgh House is less than first thought.

The Section 106 details the money which will be paid by developers towards infrastructure, such as affordable housing, roads, parking and public amenities.

How the Heritage Quarter will look along West Street
How the Heritage Quarter will look along West Street

The council’s regulatory board agreed to allow the scheme last April, subject to completion of the legal agreement.

Urban Gravesham is planning to take the Heritage Quarter scheme to judicial review, once the Section 106 is signed off, arguing that not enough money is being pumped into the borough to cope with the change.

It said in a statement: “The developer promises have proved hollow. We call on our elected councillors of the regulatory board to demand that this application is brought back with full information for councillors to debate and we will be strongly urging them to throw out this scheme once and for all.”

Work is set to begin this autumn.

Gravesham council hit back saying Urban Gravesham’s sums were “flawed” and what was negotiated was a “significant achievement”.

How part of the Heritage Quarter will look
How part of the Heritage Quarter will look

When the application was submitted to the regulatory board it had certain “aspirations” for the developer’s contributions subject to negotiations.

The agreement means 92% of the anticipated £7.2m has been achieved.

A council spokesman said: “In the prevailing economic conditions this is a significant achievement.

“The statement by Urban Gravesham is flawed because it includes some obvious double counting.

“Urban Gravesham’s statement says the contribution to affordable housing, car parks and community facilities was £9.1m. The true amount is £7.2m and the final agreement provides for £6.6m.”

Urban Gravesham has also been angered by the lack of reference to the transfer of land owned by the Church to the developers which Urban Gravesham said “puts in doubt” the developers’ commitment to build the extension to St George’s Shopping Centre.

It also asks why there is no mention of the new church hall.

The council spokesman added: “The new church hall is part of the application and not the 106 agreement.

“The lower overall figure stems from a reduced contribution towards off-site highway works which was agreed because Edinburgh House is making significant local roads investment as part of the actual development itself.”

Richard Hughes
Richard Hughes

Edinburgh House boss Richard Hughes said: “The figures used by Urban Gravesham have been misconstrued and present the financial agreement in a negative light, which is wrong.

“For example, there will be a contribution of up to £3.2m to the council towards building affordable housing, in addition to the 50 units being provided in the Heritage Quarter project and secured under the agreement.

“The sums agreed as per the 106 Agreement amount to approximately £6.6m of additional investment for the area, which takes into account today’s realistic market conditions and ensure the project’s delivery.

“Presumptions made by Urban Gravesham about the plans for the church hall’s future are incorrect.

“The new church hall is clearly included in the planning application and is therefore not necessary to be part of the Section 106 agreement.”

Click below to read Urban Gravesham's comparisons.

Urban Gravesham S106 Comparison
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