Milestone for £42m project to tackle Essex’s housing shortage

By Romi Neale in Community News

PUBLIC land is to be sold off all over Essex to accommodate the need for 136,000 new homes over the next 20 years.

Essex County Council has vowed to sell off public assetts

that it described as ’idle land’.

Councillors have set up a £42million unit to help sell off public land to help build 6,800 housesper year.

Cllr John Spence, cabinet member responsible for housing, spoke about the plan as he unvieled new homes at Goldlay Gardens, Chelmsford, on council land.

He said: “This is a real milestone in our project to find idle pockets of public sector land to solve the county’s housing shortage.

“This is the first of many sites the Essex Housing team is bringing forward and will provide high quality apartments on surplus brownfield land in the heart of Chelmsford’s city centre.

“Land owned by the public sector is ultimately owned by the taxpayer, therefore it is incredibly important that we, as custodians, are making the most of these assets.”

Essex County Council has planning permission to turn the former library HQ and storage warehouse in Goldlay Gardens, Chelmsford, into 32 one and two bedroom apartments.

A spokesman said the development shows Essex is ’ahead of the curve’ after the launch of the Government’s housing strategy today, which describes the current housing market as ‘broken’, and sets out changes to the rules around development that put pressure on both councils and developers to build more new homes.

More than 5,000 new homes were built in Essex last year.

Cllr David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, said: “Essex County Council has agreed a £42 million capital

budget over the next five years for Essex Housing, in collaboration with local authorities countywide, to identify unwanted buildings and land to build more open-market, affordable and specialist housing.

“We hope this is the first of many projects as from 2019/20 Essex Housing aims to deliver at least 150 new homes every year.”

Feasibility studies are underway at another 10 sites to see if they are suitable for much needed housing.

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