Saturday 20th July 2019,
North Yorks Enquirer

Skullduggery in Higher Places?

In today’s Letter to the Editor, Filey resident JOHN MOOK offers a personal opinion on some very strange Planning activities at the by-now infamous HA24 development in Filey which have all the makings of . . .

– THE NEXT PPI SCANDAL? –

~~~~~

Dear Editor,

May I bring your attention to what many readers may consider an inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money regarding flood defence grants from central government?

Is Scarborough Borough Council pushing beyond acceptable boundaries with behind the scenes deals with developers on lucrative developments in the Borough?

This issue relates to the ongoing controversial and now approved Planning (still with conditions) development for the McCarthy & Stone Retirement Homes, off Church Cliff Drive, Filey (HA 24).

It highlights the conflict between the Filey Flood Alleviation Scheme (FFAS) Plans 19/00713/FL and the McCarthy & Stone planning for development on HA24 planning application 17/02734/FL, and planning for McCarthy & Stones bund  18/01504/FL:

  1. The bund is outside of the Housing Allocation site HA24
  2. The planning application by McCarthy & Stone includes a separate bund to the Filey Flood Alleviation Scheme (FFAS) and it has been approved by the planning and development committee in planning application 18/01504/FL granted on 4th October 2018.

The key point is that the cost and responsibility for the bund is for McCarthy & Stone alone – and NOT Scarborough Borough Council or within the remit of the Filey Flood Alleviation Scheme (FFAS).

Yet, SBC Planning and Development Committee, meeting on 6th June 2019 Application 19/00713/FL (Ref: Report – item 1.13) resolved:

“The bund along Church Cliff Drive with in housing Allocation HA24 has been omitted as planning permission now exists for a bund across the top of HA24 in association with the recently approved housing scheme on site. The applicants have explained that, if the section of bund has not been constructed by the time that the Filey Flood Alleviation Scheme (FFAS) is implemented, it will construct as part of the project.”

The last sentence is significant.

In effect, the bund becomes part of the FFAS and the developers do not have to bear any costs. This was also confirmed in an email from Mr Nick Read, SBC – Area Planning Manager who stated in an email to Filey Town Council on 23rd April:

“if that section of bund has already been constructed by the time that the Filey FAS is implemented, the proposed bund to the rear of Wooldale Drive would be constructed up to and integrated with the bund. If it hasn’t been constructed by that time, they would do so as part of the FAS construction works.”

This indicates that SBC or FFAS will pick up the construction costs, when it is absolutely clear that it is NOT SBC’s financial responsibility.

This part of the report Item 1.13 should have been removed from the planning application as it is not part of the proposed plan and is indeed a completely separate plan.

Surely this is a breach on previous planning application agreements on the already approved plans to develop and protect site HA24 from flooding. The responsibility to implement this bund is with McCarthy & Stone the developer.

Why should SBC/ FFAS pay for McCarthy & Stone’s bund?

This raises awkward questions:

  • Who will monitor that McCarthy & Stone do pay for this bund?
  • Will the invoice and payment transaction be publicly available?
  • Will openness and transparency on this issue prevail?
  • Will the financial supervision body in SBC see this as value for money for SBC and sanction yet more costs for SBC?
  • Why is the planning department not being made accountable for a lack of transparency, questionable and contradictory decision-making processes and a flagrant disregard for financial responsibility and accountability to the tax payer?

Now for the Sucker Punch to the future property owners of the McCarthy & Stone development.

In the documentation relating to SBC’s discharge of Conditions (19/00300/COND) on planning applications 18/01504/FL and 17/02734/FL referring to the future maintenance of this flood defence bund, McCarthy & Stone states in its written response to SBC that the future new residents will pay for the upkeep of the bund in maintenance costs that they will pay to McCarthy & Stone in annual management fees even though the bund is not on site!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The BBC published an interesting online article: “Fleecehold’: New homes hit by ‘hidden costs’” 20.3.2019. They allege the scandal surrounding such properties with hidden maintenance and management costs will be the next PPI debacle. It may also have important legal ramifications for local Councils who sanctioned such developments because they have been wilfully and willingly complicit in the facilitation of financial transactions that they knew amounted to acts of mis-selling. This issue is already being reviewed by a Parliamentary committee.

The potential financial and legal risks to future buyers and SBC are patently obvious. Does the new Council want to be culpable in the mis-selling of properties by previous, present and future developers who flagrantly disregard planning procedures and decisions? The failure lies in the absence of robust systems of financial control, competent decision-making procedures and levels of accountability in the push for meeting national housing targets without professional and common – sense scrutiny of proposed developments.

HA24 is in a formally recognised pluvial flood management area and yet they are building retirement homes … need I say anymore … ?

Yours, etc

John Mook

Filey

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