New agreement will get work started on thousands of new properties
Plans for thousands of new homes that have been stuck on the drawing board for a decade are to finally get the go-ahead thanks to an historic deal reached between ministers, councillors and developers.
The deal will unlock around 22,600 much-needed homes over the next 20 years - delivering as many as 60,000 jobs - and brings a brownfield site back into use. The first phase at Eastern Quarry, Ebbsfleet, in Kent will deliver 1,500 homes as part of wider plans for Kent Thameside.
Developers Land Securities have invested over £100million in developing the site. However, plans have been delayed amid concerns over the cost and the need for further investment in transport improvements.
But now, after work by Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Transport Minister Mike Penning with Kent councils and the developers, builders could be on site as early as next Summer with the first homes set to be completed by December 2013.
Historic deal reached
Kent County Council and Dartford and Gravesham Borough Councils worked closely with the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency to reduce costs of the transport programme and to agree how funding could be unlocked. Under the arrangements agreed, the Department for Transport and Highways Agency will begin development work on two major junction improvements and will work with Kent County Council and the Kent Thameside partners in managing the transport investment programme necessary to deliver the new developments.
Dartford and Gravesham Borough Councils will ensure that contributions from Land Securities and other sites are provided to support the transport improvement programme, and that they and Kent County Council use a proportion of their New Homes Bonus payments to contribute to the programme.
The deal reached between these three councils and Land Securities on the specific planning obligations - known as a Section 106 agreement - will enable work to start. Land Securities will contribute nearly £25million towards the Homes and Roads Programme, through to completion of 4,500 homes on the site by 2020.
Mr Shapps said that this illustrated the benefits of Government, local authorities and developers working together to unlock progress on stalled larger sites and signalled that he was keen to build on this approach in the future.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
It’s frustrating that while the need for homes in Kent and the surrounding area has continued to grow, the Kent Thameside development - offering the opportunity for tens of thousands of new homes - has been stuck on the drawing board for a whole decade.
So I’m delighted that we’re finally taking steps forward to get builders on site and work finally started. This historic deal offers a double benefit to the local area, a commitment to improve the road network but also to deliver over 22,600 properties over the next 20 years - with the first homes set to be completed in little over a year from now.
After such a delay, like local residents I look forward to seeing the properties being built, the jobs being created and, in the near future, the first families moving into their new homes.
Transport Minister Mike Penning said:
The Government has been clear about the need to maintain a pipeline of future transport infrastructure improvements given their importance in delivering economic growth.
By agreeing to carry out the necessary preparatory work for potential future junction improvements on the A2, we have been able to show our commitment and give the confidence needed by private sector developers to allow them to begin the delivery of the ambitious new housing programme in Kent Thameside.
Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council said:
Getting this significant development underway and built out signals our continued intent to increase construction activity in Kent. We have real growth ambitions and this site signifies our intent to unlock the potential of the Thames Gateway. Where sites are stalled we will talk to developers about ways of releasing sites in the short term. However we will only work with those that are intent on accelerating development.
Councillor Jeremy Kite, Leader of Dartford Borough Council said:
It has been a long road but this finally seems to be our opportunity to build a great community and top quality housing for a new generation of Dartford families. Housing for sons and daughters of local people is a real responsibility and Eastern Quarry provides a great setting for young people to build their lives.
Colette O’Shea, Head of London Development, Land Securities said:
We are pleased that a way forward has been found to unlock the potential at Eastern Quarry and we will now sit down with our housebuilding partners and press ahead to start delivering homes and jobs.
Notes to editors
The first phase of 1,500 homes at Eastern Quarry are expected to be completed by 2020, with a further 3,000 homes expected to be completed by 2030-31. Eastern Quarry forms part of longer term plans which are expected to unlock the development of 22,600 homes and around 1million m2 of commercial development across the Kent Thameside region over the next 20 years.
The Homes and Communities Agency has already invested £13million in the supporting transport investment (the Homes and Roads Programme), and is committed to working with all parties to identify other future funding sources as work progresses on the development.
The Kent Thameside Strategic Transport (Homes and Roads) Programme is a £116million investment in transport improvements covering both the Strategic and Local Road Network aim at enabling the planned level of development to be realised.
The Homes and Roads Programme is a package of the following seven schemes:
- A2 Ebbsfleet Junction
- A2 Bean Junction
- A226 London Road/St Clements Way Junction
- Dartford Town Centre Improvements
- Rathmore Road Link, Gravesend
- A226 Thames Way Dualling, Ebbsfleet
- Urban Traffic Management and Control Measures
- Key partners involved in the development, management and delivery of the Homes and Roads Programme include:
- Dartford Borough Council
- Department for Transport
- Gravesham Borough Council
- Highways Agency
- Homes and Communities Agency
- Kent County Council
- Land Securities is the UK’s largest commercial property company and a member of the FTSE 100. The company owns and manages more than 29 million sq ft of property, from shopping centres to offices. For more information see www.landsecurities.com (external link).