THURROCK Council’s housing portfolio holder says she is “very disappointed” that the abandoned Howard Road, Chafford Hundred, building site has been sold to an unknown developer.
Cllr Val Morris-Cook, speaking on Tuesday (30 April), said: “We worked closely with the receivers and Family Mosaic trying to ensure this eyesore could be developed properly and quickly.
“The longer the eyesore remained, the harder it would be to redevelop.”
Construction of the 140-home scheme – primarily of flats, plus a doctor’s surgery – stopped nearly two years ago after the developer, Howard Homes, went into liquidation.
The scheme benefits from a high grant award from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to Family Mosaic Housing Association for 59 homes for social rent on the site.
The council has been in discussions with the Receiver, Allsop, and Family Mosaic for nearly a year to try and find a way forward, but at the end of 2012 Allsop was allowed to seek tenders the site – this included an agreement with Family Mosaic for completion of the social housing on the site.
Closing date for bids was 18 April and Family Mosaic decided to bid for the entire site so the council agreed not to bid but, if Family Mosaic were successful, to help them develop the site in a re-designed scheme which would include 37 houses and a mix of low cost home ownership and affordable rent in addition to the social rented units.
Cllr Morris-Cook said: “I was very disappointed when Family Mosaic were told their bid had not been successful, Allsop had accepted the highest tender. In addition the Receiver has not disclosed what the successful bid was or who the successful bidder was.
“On top of that, Family Mosaic have not been approached by the successful tenderer to discuss either the re-starting of work or the completion of the social housing – and that’s something we are chasing hard.”
She added: “The council decided not to bid, but to work with Family Mosaic. While we couldn’t use public money for a speculative bid, our appraisals for the site showed the Family Mosaic bid was fair based on a realistic assessment of building-out the site in the current market.
“Sadly it is not possible to give an indication of when the successful bidder will develop out the site, however – as building has started – the current planning consent and conditions will remain.
“I am concerned the successful bidder hasn’t approached Family Mosaic and we will continue to discuss the situation with them while making every effort to contact the successful bidder.
“We have also asked the HCA to continue to reserve the funding.”