Tens of thousands in planning ‘sweeteners’ are still to be spent in Basildon (From Basildon Recorder)
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Tens of thousands in planning ‘sweeteners’ are still to be spent in Basildon
TENS of thousands of pounds paid by developers to improve roads or pay for community projects across Wickford remains unspent.
House builders behind large developments have to sign legal agreements with councils to provide money for road and other improvements to minimise the impact of their schemes, as a condition of planning permission.
It has emerged there are cases in Wickford where more than £80,000 pledged under section 106 agreements signed between developers, Basildon Council and Essex County Council has been provided, but, years later, the work it was for has yet to happen.
In one case, a developer has not paid £30,000 promised for highway improvements in Lower Southend Road.
David Harrison, chairman of Shotgate Parish Council and a member of Wickford Action Group, said: “I think it is scandalous the council has let these slip. “The money is supposed to pay for benefits to the community, needed to minimise the impacts of the development. In some cases, they should have gone ahead before building started.”
The action group, which campaigns against the over development of the town, has highlighted a number of developments where this has happened.
These include: l £50,000 paid to Essex County Council by developer Metropolitan & County Group to improve pavements in around the Willow Centre after 28 flats were approved, yet unspent after four years.
l £30,000 promised by Bradgate Developments for highway improvements in Lower Southend Road, yet to be paid to County Hall.
l A legal agreement over improvements needed to Bridge Road, in Wickford, still not finalised seven years after 46 flats were approved.
Basildon Council leader Tony Ball said: “I am looking into this issue, and we are waiting to hear back from Essex County Council, as most of these centre around money for highway improvements. “The works are not just to minimise the impact of a development, but to improve the area as well but, in the main, these should be done quicker. If an agreement is made, it should be kept.”
Mr Harrison also appealed for more openness from the council over the legal agreements. He has been trying to get details of what the position is with a number of other developments in the town, but has had no reply for several weeks.
A council spokesman said his requests were being looked at, but a number of officers and agencies were involved.
An Essex County Council spokesman said: “We are looking carefully at the money for the development in the Wickford area. “We will be providing further information in the coming weeks regarding this spend.”
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