In the first arrangement of its kind in the country, a county council has joined up with two districts to set up an independent housing development company that will deliver homes both for sale and for rent in West Suffolk, and also provide the councils with income to help deliver services.
The three partner councils are Forest Heath District Council, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Suffolk County Council.
Cllr Richard Smith, Suffolk County Council Cabinet member for Finance said,
“The commercial collaboration between county and districts gives the independent company access to more land, skills and finance, which will result in greater benefits for those looking for a home locally in West Suffolk. As far as we know, this housing development company would be the first time a county council and districts have pooled their expertise to build more homes and it is certainly among the first to involve rural councils. It illustrates the shift in mind set across Suffolk’s public sector.”
Providing homes for our communities alongside revenue for the Councils have been key factors in the decision, which was approved by Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet on 10 November and finalised at a joint meeting of the West Suffolk Councils on 17 November.
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, lead councillor for Housing for the West Suffolk councils (Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough) said,
" Housing underpins economic growth and community wellbeing but, as local housing authorities, we know that the private sector isn’t delivering the amount or range of housing needed in the area. This new commercial operation will deliver a mix of homes for sale and for rent as well as supplying 30 per cent affordable homes and an income stream to help us deliver council service.”
The housing development company concept is part of the West Suffolk Housing Strategy, approved October 2014, which includes a comprehensive range of measures to deliver appropriate types of housing in the area, such as bringing empty homes back into use, closer working with private landlords and encouraging housing associations to make better use of their properties.
Incorporation of the company will be in January, with the first business plan due for approval in the spring and work on site planned to commence in the autumn.