The developer of a new housing estate on the former Longbridge MG Rover site has been told to pay £500,000 or it cannot start building work.
Redman Heenan Properties, part of St Modwen, has come under fire from members of Birmingham’s planning committee for using the recession to try to avoid its planning obligations.
St Modwen is already locked in a public inquiry with the city council over another payout of £145,000 as a spin-off from an office development at Longbridge.
Under initial plans to build 115 homes on the former MG Rover General office site in Lickey Road, the company was expected to pay almost £2 million towards local infrastructure, such as roads, public green space, employment and training facilities.
But the company, claiming it has been hit hard by the recession, wants to pay just £100,000 to meet planning obligations.
The planning department has now sought a compromise and is demanding £507,000, based on an assessment of the current state of the housing market.
Committee member Coun Mike Sharpe (Lab Tyburn) said: “It seems that developers keeping getting their hankies out and come to us claiming we should feel sorry for them. I think we should hold out for the full amount.”
Coun Bob Beauchamp (Con Erdington) added: “It is very annoying and typical of some developers. But officers have gone to a lot of trouble to work out what we can justifiably ask for. But I would ask that in future we try to stop companies talking us down.”
Committee chairman Peter Douglas Osborn (Con Weoley) said that they have to go with the expert assessment of the current economic climate and do their best to encourage investment and development.
The committee voted through the plan but building can only start once the revised contribution has been paid.