A developer has been slammed after it asked an authority if it could get out of paying hundreds of thousands of pounds in contributions towards vital infrastructure.
Peel Land and Property (L&P) is in the process of building the Chatham Waters development which neighbours Asda in Pier Road.
The developer told Medway Council it cannot afford to pay a £440,000 contribution as it does not stand to make a profit from the scheme to build 237 affordable homes.
The 26-acre site secured planning permission in 2011 for a mix of uses including 950 homes, 400,000 sq ft of commercial space, and 100,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space and an events space.
Phase one of the development included Asda supermarket, the Mast and Rigging pub and Waterfront UTC school.
A report presented to councillors said Peel L&P spent three years looking for a company to deliver the affordable homes on the site.
It added: "Due to viability, the delivery of the affordable housing element of the Chatham Waters development cannot afford to meet the financial contributions required (for that element only).
"Since the approval there has been significant national and international inflation pressure particularly relating to rising costs for materials and labour."
As a result, the developer asked whether £440,000 in Section 106 contributions which it had agreed to pay towards the delivery of the affordable units could be written off - but it said it would still build the affordable homes.
Section 106 fees are agreed with the council to support the delivery of supporting infrastructure for the new development and other people who already live nearby.
They usually include road and travel improvements and can also go towards supporting healthcare and education.
During a meeting of the planning committee yesterday (Thursday, October 6), head of planning Dave Harris advocated for councillors to allow the fee to be written off.
'Do not worry about Peel, they will survive this. I am pretty sure they will get through it...'
He said the council was dealing with more requests from developers making similar pleas due to the current state of the economy.
Martin Aust, an independent viability consultant, told councillors building the affordable homes would generate a £2.5 million loss for the company.
Cllr Stuart Tranter (Con) - who has been a vocal opponent of Peel L&P's plans to close Chatham Docks to make way for 3,625 homes and commercial space - said he believed the rest of the site would deliver enough profit to make up for the losses incurred from the affordable homes scheme.
He said: "The £440,000 Section 106 would have paid for open spaces, play areas, sports at The Strand, healthcare, primary education, waste and recycling, provision of on-site community facilities and so forth, to try and compensate in some very small way for the impact of the development on this area, that's why we have Section 106.
"I am not convinced we should let the local area suffer for this.
"I'm afraid I don't have sympathy for Peel in this case.
"Do not worry about Peel, they will survive this. I am pretty sure they will get through it."
Correcting Cllr Tranter's comments, Mr Harris said open space, a children's play area and an on-site community facility had been agreed and would be included on the site.
Cllr Simon Curry (Lab): "We are over a barrel. We lose £440,000, or we lose the affordable element - that's not fair on the people of Chatham who are supposed to be benefiting from these developments."
Cllr Dan McDonald (Lab) said he felt councillors had been "let down" and "screwed over" by Peel L&P.
Following a motion put forward by Cllr Tranter, councillors voted to keep the agreed Section 106 agreement, with 13 votes in favour and two against.