Affordable housing project may be finished and one delayed due to financial difficulties
AN AFFORDABLE housing project may have to be abandoned, and another severely delayed, due to unexpected costs caused by the unearthing of unmapped pipes.
Costs for the Land's End Peninsula Community Land Trust schemes are set to soar, with South West Water (SWW) demanding £5,000 just for an assessment at the three-house scheme in St Just.
Cornwall councillor Sue James, who chairs the trust, said paying the sum would be too big a gamble, as subsequent charges to move the piping would then be far higher.
"SWW said it costs £5,000 to tell us where we can move them to," she said. "They have to approve it. Unless we can find a partner or grant backing we can't proceed."
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Mrs James said the discovery was made following an underground scan and it was likely the housing project would have to be cancelled.
On another site in Pendeen pipes did not show up on a survey and were only found as contractors began work.
However, Mrs James said because builders were on site they might be able to move the pipes themselves, and therefore more cheaply – but this would still incur a registry fee from SWW.
"They can negotiate," she said, "but the build has been delayed. We've been told it'll take a number of weeks.
"I still believe we can deliver the homes, but at extra cost."
Mrs James said SWW should do more, as new homes would mean more customers for the company – the region's only water provider – and the problem was due to inaccuracies in the firm's own database.
A spokeswoman for SWW said it was unable to pay for individual works.
"When developers carry out developments they should conduct surveys; it's not our responsibility," she said.
The firm "doesn't have all the information" on its network, the amount of pipework under its care having more than doubled as a result of a change in 2011.
"We're responsible for 60 per cent more sewers," she said. "Before then they weren't in our ownership. It'll take time; we're working on the information we've got."