project to tackle Essex’s homes shortage reached a major milestone today during a brick-laying ceremony at a key development site.
The Council’s former library storage warehouse has been knocked down to make way for three blocks of one and two-bedroom apartments, all with balconies or terraces, roof mounted solar panels and car parking around a courtyard garden.
It is the first site to be developed by Essex Housing, a new and unique in-house team working with public sector partners to identify surplus taxpayer-owned land for development.
Essex Housing has planning permission to build 156 properties countywide and has submitted applications for another 179 homes, while feasibility studies are underway at another 22 sites to see if they are suitable for housing.
Cllr Lissimore said: “I’m delighted to lay these bricks at Goldlay Gardens because it represents a real landmark in our drive to build the homes which the people of Essex need and deserve.
“Speeding up housing growth is vital to driving economic growth, but more importantly to ensure Essex is a great place to live, work and grow up, and so future generations can get a foot on the property ladder.”
Essex County Council has pledged to spend £42 million by 2019/2020 to build more homes. It came ahead of the launch of the Government’s housing strategy earlier this year, which described the current homes market as broken, and set out changes to the rules around development that put pressure on both councils and developers to build more homes to meet demand.
In Essex County Council’s boundaries, 136,000 new homes are needed over the next 20 years, 6,800 per year. When the unitary authorities of Southend and Thurrock are included, that figure rises to 180,000 homes. In 2015/16 in the ECC area, 5,000 new homes were built.
Rose Builders Ltd has been chosen to develop the Goldlay Gardens site, which is the first of several projects in the pipeline.
Steven Rose, Managing Director at Rose Builders, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Essex County Council to redevelop this redundant library warehouse site to deliver some great homes for Essex people. We’re a local contractor that has been working in the county for more than 100 years so not only is this project good for the housing market, but it’s also fantastic for the Essex economy too.”
There are also approved plans to build 60 Independent Living properties at a vacant site in Hillhouse, Waltham Abbey, which will include a new swimming pool, leisure centre and GP surgery, while 60 homes are planned at a former NHS site in Coppins Court, Tendring, which closed eight years ago.
Essex Housing is also awaiting decisions on planning applications for projects in Chelmsford, Rochford and Maldon.
Cllr Lissimore added: “Public sector-owned buildings or land is ultimately owned by taxpayers. Therefore we must make the most of these sites when they become surplus to build the homes our county so desperately needs.”