Permission for planning was granted after Lomond Homes signed a Section 75 Agreement, which is a legally binding document that puts certain obligations on the developer for the benefit of the local community.
Lomond Homes made an agreement to make 4 payments under the education provision and public realm.
These payments were to be paid at key stages of the development and have a total value of £300,000.00.
The payments to be made are;
First of £50,000 due within 7 days of completion of the 25th private unit within Phase 2B as the 1st Education contribution.
Second of £75,000 due within 7 days of the completion of the 50th private unit within Phase 2b as the 2nd education contribution.
Third of £77,000 within 7 days of the completion of the 64th private unit within Phase 2b as the 3rd education contribution.
Fourth of £98,000 within 7 days of the date of completion of the 64th private unit as the Public Realm Contribution.
Also within the agreement, the developer agreed to undertake the development of a Town Park Link, which Lomond Homes have so far failed to do, which has caused tensions within the local community between residents in New Farm Vale and Grace Street.
Grace Street & New Farm Vales
Lomond Homes agreed to build a Town Park Link for the New Farm Vales development, however, as the homes were selling and residents started moving into the area, this pathway to connect the development to Lochgelly, for easier access to the central area was not forth coming.
Rather than build the agreed upon pathway, Lomond Homes made an agreement with Fife Council to build a temporary pathway between New Farm Vale and Grace Street. This temporary pathway can become permanent if someone makes a formal request via a planning application.
This has caused much arguments within the local community between the 2 areas involved in the dispute.
While they have a legal obligation to build the Town Park Link, they are currently not in breach of the section 75, due to a technicality/loophole in the agreement specifically;
Lomond Homes agreed to build the pathway after Phase 2 was completed of the development.
Phase 2 has never been completed, and Lomond have now moved onto Phase 3 and beyond.
Lomond Homes stopped the completion of Phase 2 of the development, by falling short of only 1 housing plot, therefore, managing to avoid their commitment to provide the public pathway on a technicality.
It was noted in local press, that closure of this saga is nearing the horizon after Councillor Clarke and Joe McGuiness, met with representatives of Lomond Homes who are said to be very keen to progress things.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, we requested the minutes from the meeting but we were told none were available as the meeting was informal.
However we did obtain a letter written by Joe McGuiness which was sent to Chief Executive Ronnie Hind (Fife Council) which stated;
‘The (Cowdenbeath) Area Committee would like some consideration within the planning process to ensure that the developers are held to account andthat each phase of the development is completed before progressing to subsequent phases within the same site boundary’
The reply to Joe McGuiness from Ronnie Hind states;
‘…..it would seem that the developer has not completed the last house in each phase and thereby delayed these trigger points. The only option open to the Council is to negotiate a solution with the developers….’
At the time of writing this article, no date has been announced for constructing the Town Park Link.
Section 75 Payments
Under the Section 75 Agreement, Lomond Homes made an agreement that they would make the first payment of £50,000.00 due within 7 days of the 25th private unit within Phase 2B as the 1st Education contribution.
During mid February 2011, we learned from another FOI request that;
‘…confirmation that 32 completion certificates have now been issued therefore the first trigger of completion of the 25th house appears to have been reached. Arrangements are in place to contact Lomond Homes to make arrangements to pay this installment. (£50k).’
We have made several FOI requests on the status of the payment, with the last data requested, received on the 1st of June 2011. As yet no payment has been made, which is now long overdue.
From the earlier FOI requests, we learnt that Fife Council is in the process of negotiating a payment plan with Lomond Homes. For every FOI request we made we learned that Fife Council and Lomond Homes have still not agreed upon a payment plan.
Fife Council have discussed with their legal department on taking further action against Lomond Homes for non payment, but as yet, discussions are on going with the developer, therefore no legal action has been started.
Reviewing the Section 75 Agreement it is understandable why Fife Council have not taken legal action against Lomond, because within the Section 75, exists another technicality that can be used to avoid making the payment within the
initial timescale and offset payments for further down the road.
‘Notwithstanding the dates of completion the developer shall in any event have paid the 3 contributions not later than 4 years after the latter date of signing of this Agreement.’
We can only hope that Lomond Homes do not declare bankruptcy, or anything else happens to the business, that exempts them from making any payments under the Section 75 Agreement.
Lomond Homes have agreed to pay a total of £300,00.00 and provide a Town Park Link, yet the first payments have not been met and no construction on the Town Park Link has been started.
Due to technicalities within the agreement, Lomond Homes have done nothing wrong, yet we feel that, using these technicalities is a way to legally avoid certain obligations.
In a time of severe cuts for Fife Council and reductions to services,£50,000.00 would be an excellent boost for the local educational provision and would help offset and lessen any future planned educational cuts.
Lomond Homes have been given permission to build homes for profit, with the cheapest home currently available priced at: £159,950.00, and the most expensive currently available home priced at: £238,950.00.
At a time of severe cuts and ‘austerity measures’ Lomond Homes can surely make their legally agreed payment of £50,000.00, from the sale of 1 home, sooner, rather than later, and help support the local community and provide the local education provision with a much needed cash boost.
As of writing this article (4th June 2011), no payment has been made and no construction has started on the Town Park Link. These issues have been dragging on for a while and seem to be set to continue to drag on for much longer.
Although Lomond Homes are not in breach of the Section 75 Agreement, their behaviour over the issues lead us to question their business morale and ethics.
We would like to see Lomond Homes progress the Town Park Link and make the payment, which is due, sooner rather than later.
All of the ongoing details of these issues with Lomond Homes can be found online at: lochgelly.org.uk/category/nfv/
Editor Note: Lomond Homes have created a separate legal company named Lomond The Avenues Ltd to develop land next to The Avenue which will be under public consultation in August.*[dm]18[/dm]
*Update 14th Aug: When delivering the magazines we noticed Lomond
Homes the Avenues Ltd were having their public consultation in the business centre. Speaking to the staff the consultation was held on the 12th & 13th August. We are sorry for not reporting this, we just never knew, or noticed any public notices for the consultation.