Saturday, 29 April 2017

Ministers end deadlock over 22,600-home project

The initial phase of a 22,600-home regeneration scheme stalled for 10 years has been given the go ahead after ministers stepped in to broker a deal over transport costs.

Developer Land Securities is planning to build around 4,500 homes at the site of a disused quarry at Ebbsfleet Kent by 2030/31, with the first homes completed next year. The work is intended to kick start wider regeneration of the Kent Thameside region, resulting in 22,600 homes and 60,000 jobs over 20 years.

Land Securities has spent more than £100 million on the site but work was held up by disputes over section 106 planning obligations. The developer was originally due to pay £40 million over seven years from the completion of the first home. This has now been cut to £25 million with repayments linked to the number of homes built.

Kent, Dartford and Gravesham councils have agreed to use a proportion of their new homes bonus funding to improve transport infrastructure, and the Department for Transport and Highways Agency will work on improving two major junctions.

The deal was agreed after housing minister Grant Shapps and transport minister Mike Penning stepped in to end the deadlock.

The first 1,500 home phase of the development in a disused quarry has been approved and should be complete by 2020. A further 3,000 homes at Eastern Quarry should be finished by 2030/31.

Writing on the Conservative Home blog, housing minister Grant Shapps explained how he had called the various parties into his office to resolve the problems.

Mr Shapps said ministers and officials from the Communities and Local Government department and Department for Transport were able to ‘get things moving’ by bringing people together to discuss the problems.

‘We know that every 100,000 homes built in this country contributes 1 per cent to our gross domestic product. So everyone who has rolled up their sleeves and got this huge development started will have played an important part in helping to boost the economy,’ he said.

‘But the real winners here will be the local population who will finally get the chance to own a home with the first of these new properties completed by the end of 2013.’

Paul Carter, leader of Kent Council, said: ‘Getting this significant development underway and built out signals our continued intent to increase construction activity in Kent.’

The government has recently announced a consultation on section 106 agreements. Under its plans developers would be able to renegotiate agreements signed before April 2010 if they are preventing projects from going ahead.

A report commissioned by the government, from Sir Adrian Montague, last week recommended that section 106 requirements should be relaxed on schemes to build homes for private rent.

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