Green light for deal to speed up delivery of affordable homes


Staff reporter (Chester First)

A NEW framework to speed up the development of council-owned sites for new homes and other initiatives has been given the green light.

The move was approved by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) Conservative-dominated executive.

Councillors agreed to adopt a framework of strategic housing partners to provide competitive rates and value for money for the disposal of sites no longer required by the local authority.

The meeting heard it would speed up the development process, reduce costs and offer councillors greater influence over the nature of a development in their ward.

Cllr Herbert Manley, CWaC executive member for growth and innovation, said: “The framework offers the council many benefits.

“It allows us to avoid costly procurement procedures and to think about how we want to dispose of our sites.

“If a site is appropriate for development, there will be consultation with local members so they have some influence into what that site should be. We’ve already agreed the disposal of a number of sites.

“The type of buildings will not be defined until they go to planning application but on every site there will be affordable homes.

“This framework will ensure we are getting value for money as a council while increasing housing stock owned by other providers.”

The meeting heard that six sites, with three of them in Ellesmere Port, are already approved for disposal.

They are ready for immediate release on approval of the framework.

Those sites are Sherbourne Road, Ellesmere Port, Kensington Road/Sutton Way, Ellesmere Port, and the former Foxfield pub in Poole Hall Road, Ellesmere Port.

The other sites are in Winsford and Northwich.

Cllr Manley told the meeting that adopting the framework would mean these sites should be completed from the end of 2015 onwards.

Speaking as a visiting member, Labour Cllr Angela Claydon said: “I appreciate the reasons for this, especially as it would allow the speedy development of council-owned brownfield sites.

“But no numbers are given for the development of affordable homes.

“Is it 25 per cent, 30 per cent, 40 per cent?

“It would be very disappointing if we’ve given away our council land at a very cheap cost if it was only 25 per cent.

“I would like there to be some sort of guarantee that these sites will deliver a fair share of affordable homes.”

Council leader Mike Jones told the meeting the minimum number of affordable homes for each site would be determined in accordance with planning policy.

The remaining sites agreed for disposal are Luton Road, Ellesmere Port and the Acorns Infant School, Ellesmere Port with other sites in Winsford and Northwich.
It is anticipated that the 11 sites will deliver about 500 new homes.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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