Plans agreed on Barley Homes puts West Suffolk in control of development

01 Oct 2018

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Being the sole owner of Barley Homes will enable the much needed development of public owned land in West Suffolk, councillors have agreed.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council have agreed to jointly own the development company which previously had Suffolk County Council as a shareholder.

This simplification of ownership will aid delivery of much needed affordable homes, reduce red tape and simplify governance. Both councils are due to become one West Suffolk Council next year.

A recommendation was also backed by councillors of both councils to pause work on the car park site by Haverhill Town Hall to look at issues raised during consultation.

Members of Forest Heath District Council agreed the proposals on Wednesday, after St Edmundsbury Borough Council also approved the recommendation at their Tuesday meeting.

The move follows talks with Suffolk County Council whose Cabinet have already supported the 50% of shares in the company they previously held be moved to both West Suffolk councils.

All councils have worked closely on establishing this innovative company which uses public owned land to meet local demand that the commercial sector would be unlikely to have developed. It also means that the income from development, including much needed affordable homes, would stay in the hands of tax payers to support services instead of going to developers.

The business case for Barley Homes going forward will focus on developing Westfield School Site, which could provide 37 homes, of which 11 will be affordable properties. In addition, it will bring forward the Castle Hill School site in Haverhill for which a development brief is being progressed for consultation. These two sites have been derelict for some time and councillors were keen for development to take place on these locations.

Both meetings heard how councillors have listened to concerns about the development of the car park site in Haverhill. It was agreed the pause would help try and resolve some of those issues.

Councillor Sara Mildmay-White, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: "Barley Homes is the right thing to do to make sure we have the right homes and that public owned land is used in the best possible way to benefit our communities. We know that many of the homes, including the affordable ones, that our communities need are unlikely to be delivered commercially and that the profit would go into the pockets of developers rather than supporting services that our communities rely on. Barley Homes will provide an income stream to the councils at a time when there is no central government funding.

"This new arrangement gives the opportunity to reduce the complexity of the governance, bureaucracy and duplication that can arise when working with three organisations and enable West Suffolk Council to focus on delivering homes. We will of course continue to work closely with Suffolk County Council on managing and encouraging growth and investment in our area.",


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