Council could take control of housing sites in Weston after lack of action
- Credit: Archant
Three sites in Weston-super-Mare could finally be developed to provide affordable housing.
North Somerset Council is in talks with Homes England about buying its land in Dolphin Square, Sunnyside Road and Locking Road car park.
The move comes after claims last year the government agency had swept in “full of ideas” but failed to deliver.
The council has previously hailed the redevelopment of Dolphin Square with restaurants and a cinema as a boon for the town that will attract further investment.
Plans for housing on the remainder of the site – potentially up to 180 flats – have been stymied by the presence of a large substation that could cost more than £2million to remove.
In the past the council has also welcomed “exciting” plans developed with Homes England for 400 high quality, contemporary homes on the Sunnyside Road and Locking Road car parks to dramatically improve the entrance to the town centre.
Speaking last year, Councillor Crockford-Hawley, said it was unfair that residents blamed the council for the inaction, adding: “Homes England came to Weston and acquired land full of ideas, but not a thing has happened.”
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Executive members agreed behind closed doors in principle to buy the sites when they met on June 23.
A decision notice published this month says: “Members welcomed the proposal for the purchase of brownfield sites in the town and the benefit of having control over the delivery of new homes to meet local need, with a focus on quality and affordable housing provision.”
Following due diligence checks and negotiations, the council hopes to reach an agreement in the autumn before it begins a procurement process to find a suitable development partner.
Alan Rice from Weston Housing AcTion said: “This is a surprising and welcome move by North Somerset Council which they seem to have kept under a bushel.
“What makes it even more welcoming, it’s an apparent change of direction from the current policy of no affordable housing being required from developers in Weston town centre – an area of deprivation and expensive poor quality private rental.
“I hope the next step is to ensure these homes are truly affordable with a social rent of no more than 30 per cent of local income.
“And nationally I call on the government to raise local housing allowances in line to meet that rent so that no-one is left behind.”