In the Parliamo Politico III blog of February 26th, I cited an example of “Enabling Development”, referring to the incomplete greyhound stadium at Wallyford and citing Sirius as the Developer that had “pocketed the dosh” in connection with the original 100 houses built. I also stated that Sirius had defaulted on their obligation to finish the stadium and provide services to the adjacent business park.
Since then, a major shareholder in the closely held Sirius company has been good enough to take time to explain their side of the matter to me. I now accept that Sirius was not the developer of the homes that were built. The Section 75 planning obligations which Sirius signed up to included completion of the stadium steelwork and provision of utilities for the proposed business park. These obligations were fulfilled, with the understandable exception of running gas services to an empty business park, for health and safety reasons.
I also made comment on Sirius’ attempt to gain consent for a further 94 homes with no “binding commitment” to finish the stadium. I now accept that Sirius was prepared to enter into such a binding commitment to ensure that the funds realised from the sale of this extra land for housing provided for completion of the stadium. I had not appreciated that council policy prohibits legal officials from spending time drafting such commitment if the Planning Department already intends recommending refusal of the application. Since the application had no provision for the business park, as the Local Plan requires, this was the case here. That a binding commitment was unavailable cannot therefore be blamed on Sirius.
I have always believed that building this stadium is desirable and still hope for an acceptable proposal that will allow that. But, because this later application would have eliminated the business park, I remain convinced that the Planning Committee’s refusal, which I supported, was correct. Nonetheless, I regret any implication that Sirius acted with anything less than integrity or with any intent to deceive. I offer my apologies for any distress inaccuracies in my original blog might have caused, especially to those involved with Sirius directly.