A NUMBER of announcements by the Conservative government aimed to boost house-building in the UK seem to have left Thurrock out in the cold.
On Monday, January 2nd, the government announced plans for garden villages and towns including 1000’s of homes in Dunton Hills and a whole new town on the outskirts of Harlow.
On Tuesday, January 3rd, they also announced plans for hundreds of thousands of starter homes across the country.
Starter Homes are new homes built exclusively for first-time buyers between 23 and 40 years old at a discount of at least 20% below market value. The scheme has already invested in the Basildon area.
But despite this, Thurrock Council has told YT the there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about housing in the borough.
Thurrock Council is engaged in a wide range of initiatives to ensure that house building in the borough meet future needs.
At its core is the development of the Local Plan with residents having a say on what Thurrock should look like by 2035 and developers having certainty on what plans for growth are.
Thurrock Council will shortly consult on the Local Plan Issues and Options stage 2 which will identify potential locations for housing development. Once identified, the council will be in a position to put forward options for new Garden Villages or similar this be is appropriate.
The principles of high quality development promoted through Garden Villages are ones the council already adopts and applies.
The council is continuing its work as one of the 20 new Housing Zones outside London announced by Government early last year. As part of this scheme the council received £700,000, together with targeted external support from Local Partnerships, to progress plans to renew poor quality existing housing estates.
In addition a further submission to the Homes and Communities Agency was made in December 2016 for £2.75m to accelerate mixed use housing delivery across the Borough.
This fund is limited to councils outside London designated as Housing Zones or with ‘large sites’. Together with an additional bid for £380,000 for further capacity funding this latest submission represented a bid for 17 per cent of the £18m available nationally.
Purfleet Centre regeneration will also see around 2,500 new homes built – as well as new primary and secondary schools, shops, health hubs, integrated transport links and a state of the art film and TV studio complex.
The council submitted an expression of interest for Starter Homes earlier in the year for a number of potential sites across the borough. As further work is done on development viability and they become closer to being ready for development we will re-submit as part of the second wave expected by Government.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill, said: “This list makes it absolutely clear that the council is getting on with the job of providing quality housing which will meet local needs. But clearly larger developments – such as garden towns – will be required to meet the housing needs of the boroughs existing population.
“The next stage of the Local Plan consultation will see us identify the areas and sites where new housing developments can be located – but also supported by the local needs of communities.
“Submitting an application for a garden town would have been pre-empting the outcome of that consultation is not what this administration does.
“The consultation which begins soon will mean that growth in Thurrock will happen with residents – not to residents”
The former leader of Thurrock Council, cllr John Kent was in less postive mood and fears that this could be death knell for any building in Thurrock.
Cllr Kent said: “I have to say that I am seeing fewer and fewer reasons for house builders wanting to come to Thurrock when there are so many other
incentives close by.
“Dunton Garden Suburb is just one example. These plans for 1000s of homes in green belt at Dunton Hills is a real threat to building on brown field sites in Thurrock.
“I would like to know what representations have been and are going to be made by Thurrock Council to ensure Thurrock is part of this “housebuilding revolution”.