Freedom of Information response confirms no rent or rates paid
Despite receiving a decision notice which required the company to implement the original planning condition which included providing cladding on the outside of the containers on Piccadilly, Spark still haven’t started work.
The decision notice was issued on 21st August, over 2 months ago.
Spark were publicly quoted as saying that they would “appeal” to the Secretary of State against the Councils decision. They haven’t done so yet and indeed it could be another 4 months before they have to register an appeal. Even then Planning Inspectors could take several months to determine the case. That might be close to the May 2020 end of their lease for the site.
The Council says, “It is the view of planning officers that it would be inappropriate and unreasonable for the planning authority to attempt to take planning enforcement action whilst they exercise their right to challenge the Council’s decision”.
Their position ignores the fact that the developers have been in breach of the planning conditions for over 6 months now and that they have failed to record an appeal against the August planning refusal.
With containers having been in place since September 2017, that would mean that the ugly frontage would potentially have been on public view for over 2 years.
A Freedom of Information response (ref: IGF/10492) has confirmed that Spark have not yet paid any rent or rates on their development. The rates issue is blamed on delays in the Valuation Office who have yet to respond to a valuation request issued to them in May 2018.
It appears that the Council issued a contract to Spark which didn’t require any rent payments to be made until March 2019. It is unclear whether the council collects rent 12 months in arrears on the other properties that it rents in the City (Council house tenants pay rent fortnightly).
The FOI does confirm that building control agreement hasn’t been issued
“The original building regulation application was approved at the site, however this has subsequently been amended to incorporate roof cover which is currently being assessed. As soon as this is complete a Completion Certificate will be issued for the site”.
Perhaps not surprisingly other developers in the City are now crying “foul” and are claiming that there is no longer a level playing field.