One of the boldest development plans for York city centre in years is not financially viable, according to an independent report.
But the team behind the Roman Quarter say that assessment is wrong – because it is based on short-term thinking.
The proposals, drawn up by applicants Rougier Street Developments, owners of the site, and York Archaeological Trust, include a Roman museum called Eboracum, an 88-room aparthotel, 153 new apartments and office space.
Northern House, Rougier House and Society Bar and Lounge would be demolished to make way for the nine-storey scheme.
These plans are waiting to be discussed by City of York Council planners after they rejected the original scheme in February 2021.
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The council commissioned Stannybrook Property Consultants to conduct a financial viability assessment review (FVAR) of the revised project.
Its verdict has just been published. They write: “The FVAR demonstrates that viability is a material consideration in this instance.
“It is clear that the proposed development, even without any S106 contributions, is financially unviable to deliver.”
Stannybrook broke down the figures like this:
|Gross Development Value||£65,784,699|
|Developer’s Return on GDV||Blended|
|Build and Abnormal Development Costs||£72,305,000|
|Marketing and Disposal Fees||£1,827,910|
|Applicant Benchmark Land Value||£19,040,000|
|Residual Land Value||Negative|
|Surplus/Deficit against Benchmark Return||SIGNIFICANT|
Former independent councillor and heritage campaigner Johnny Hayes said: “This is a very large development indeed.
“Seeing this document, I was shocked to read the contents.
“The question is if this development is significantly unviable according to the viabilty report then what is going to happen now?
“This is a council-commissioned viability assessment and is an important document. Can we conclude that the plans for the Roman Quarter development with its 153 apartments, 88 bedroom hotel and large amount office space is going to be scrapped?”
However Paul Ellis, of Rougier Street Developments, told YorkMix the Stannybrook assessment was based on a misconception.
“The scheme is viable for ourselves as, unlike other ‘traditional’ shorter term projects we are taking a long term, 50 year view and retaining the property.
“Traditional development viability reports are based on shorter term development exits – ie the sale of the property upon completion. Whereas on this project York Archaeological Trust are taking a long term lease and we have decided to retain the property for the long term.
“Remember we have owned this property now for over five years and committed over £1 million on planning. We are very much committed to delivery and retention and to the future of York.”
That, of course, depends on planning permission being granted. At the time of publication, the plan had received eight comments in opposition and 47 in support.
You can read all the planning documents and comment here.