South West Water becomes a barrier to affordable homes

Posted on: 7th October 2013
South West Water Block Affordable Homes in St Just and Pendeen

Why are affordable homes for St Just and Pendeen people not being built?

Lands End Peninsula Community Land Trust gained planning consent to build affordable homes in Lafrowda Close, St Just and Moorland Close, Pendeen, last year but there is still nothing to show on the two sites.

Both have hit problems caused by South West Water having a lack of accurate information on where their water and sewage pipes are. Both schemes searched and used the information available, at the planning stage, and the scheme designs were based on the available information.

When the Land Trust moved forward to engage contractors Sue James, Chair of the Trust explains: “Our contractor used equipment to check that services were as shown on our plans but at Lafrowda Close, the result was that the information we had at planning was wrong and the development either had to be changed or the pipes moved.”

The Trust was placed in difficulty when SW Water said it required £5,000 to provide drawings to move services.

Until the drawings are provided the cost of doing the work cannot be obtained and as this was to be a scheme for 3 affordable homes for sale, the risks are that the scheme will no longer be financially viable.

The Land Trust Chair and now local Cornwall Councillor, Sue James said “I felt we had been really unlucky at Lafrowda Close but then I heard that another charity in the town, working on the Plen Project, had encountered a similar problem. With their contractor already on site, he did all the work of designing where to move the services to but SW Water still found a way to levy a charge. £1,500 to “register” the location of the pipe work. This delayed the project by 16 weeks.”

After becoming a Cornwall Councillor, Sue James was involved in a discussion about barriers and delays to the delivery of affordable homes in the County with many Cornwall Councillors critical of developers for sitting on projects they had planning permission for.

Sue added, “I had a view from the other side, effectively a ‘not-for-profit’ developer and I told of the problems of not having accurate information at the planning stages. It then emerged that there were similar problems known about in other parts of the County and the Trust had not ‘just been unlucky.

St Just Affordable Homes Blocked by South West Water

St Just affordable homes blocked due to South West Water

“Imagine my horror when I received the call that, after work had started at Moorland Close, the contractor had found a sewer pipe in an unexpected location and it was in the way of our planned development” explains Sue.

“The contractor has now pulled off site and is seeking a solution with SW Water but this will increase our costs and cause delays.”

This is the reason the Trust has had to postpone its ‘laying the foundations’ launch event.

With the support of Councillor Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for Homes and Communities, a meeting is being sought with SW Water to discuss the problems caused by the lack of accurate information on their infrastructure.

Sue has also contacted local M.P Andrew George, who is taking the matter up with the Chief Executive of SW Water.