Council to bring “15-20” sites forward for housing in Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 19:07 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 21:56 17 January 2020
Suffolk County Council
Plans have been unveiled to bring up to 20 council sites forward for housing developments – with nearly £11 million pledged to kick start the scheme.
Suffolk County Council agreed the cash at its cabinet meeting on Tuesday, and also gave the go-ahead for talks to begin over creating a joint company with private sector firms for enabling schemes to come forward.
According to the council the sites are in different stages of work, although the locations have not yet been made public.
Conservative cabinet member for economic development, housing and enterprise, Nick Gowrley, said: "As you would expect, the council continually reviews its land holdings as, on occasions, areas of land will become suitable for alternative use such as housing and associated development.
"Our proposed approach for taking these forward will include a variety of models for the delivery of housing, including working with our district and borough councils and potentially bringing in additional specialist skills via a private sector joint venture partner.
"Over the past five years, land has been sold to enable the development of over 550 housing units.
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"We have provisionally identified a range of 15-20 key sites that could accommodate two or three housing units up to those that would support development of 1300+ units.
"A capital investment of £10.9m has been proposed as being required to perform the necessary work to bring forward these sites."
The council is understood to be the third largest landowner in Suffolk, with some brownfield sites among its portfolio - old middle schools included.
According to Mr Gowrley, the council can maximise the value of the land by securing planning permission for sites, and ensure they can be developed with the types of housing those communities need that private developers may be unwilling to pursue.
He also pledged to ensure that infrastructure needs such as education and health provision would be included.
The council controversially walked away from a joint housebuilding venture with West Suffolk Council, called Barley Homes, before a single home had been built in September 2018.
However it has confirmed that any joint venture would be carefully considered.
Peter Gardiner from the opposition Labour group said: "I have a word of caution in terms of the joint venture. It needs to be very carefully thought through this time and not at the expense of taxpayers, as Barley Homes was.
"While this is about providing land and some housing, we must be very careful how we deal with this."