A report from the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth and the Cabinet Member for Housing Services is attached.
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth, presented the report which set out a clear process to bring the site forward, working in partnership with Homes England and delivered through a formal Collaboration Agreement. It was noted that the detail would be set out when the proposal reached the planning stage, and significant public consultation would be undertaken.
In response to a Member question about the flood risk, the Leader advised that the flood risk element was only on part of the site and as such could be mitigated through site layout with other protection measures to be determined at the planning stage. With regards to other complexities, ground inspections and remediation would be needed, and the cricket club currently on the site would need relocating.
1. Notes progress made by the Council to bring the site forward for housing.
2. Provides approval to enter into the Collaboration Agreement (Heads of Terms set out in Appendix A in the Part B of this report) with Homes England and delegates the finalisation of the Agreement and any further approvals to the Chief Executive, Section 151 and Monitoring Officers.
3. Agrees the delivery strategy as set out within the Collaboration Agreement and outlined in section 4.2 of this report, including transfer of the Councils land comprising two sites at Rectory Lane and Tower Farm to Homes England and the procurement of a development partner through their Delivery Partner Panel.
4. Notes the potential for a capital receipt for the Council’s land and the increased council income generated by new homes on the site.
Reasons for the decision:
East Lancashire Paper Mill is the largest brownfield housing site in Bury District and sits within the regeneration programme in Radcliffe. This is a long-term vacant site and has considerable abnormal costs that have historically presented a viability challenge in the context of housing development.
Several attempts in the past by previous owners to bring the site forward have failed. A new collaborative approach will ensure that the procurement of a developer and the delivery of much needed homes will ensure the site is comprehensively developed to the highest environmental and social standard.
Other options considered and rejected:
Other options have been considered. The options have been considered in relation to risk, likelihood of development in the short to medium term and best value for the Council. These are:
· Do nothing; The site is in the five-year housing supply and forms some of the infrastructure land (and enabling development) for the wider site. To Do nothing would mean the sites are not developed and the new homes are not built. The site is a liability to Bury Council and a maintenance budget would be required to hold the site. Do nothing is not an option politically or financially.
· The Council brings its own site to the market independently of Homes England; there is no collaboration with Homes England. The two sites are intrinsically linked and cannot be developed to their full potential in isolation, taking into account site constraints, the cricket club and flood risk. This option has been pursued previously by the Council and it was deemed unviable.
· The Council acquires Homes England owned land (if they are agreeable to sell) and brings the whole site to market. Homes England have not given consent to do this and their value expectation would likely fail the best value test.
· Homes England acquires the Council owned site and pursues its own disposal / development approach with no collaboration with the council relating to the site cricket ground relocation. This is more complicated will result in further delay without any obvious additional benefits.
The do-nothing option will continue to see the ELPM site remain derelict and undeveloped. It could result in the planning consent expiring and the opportunity to comprehensively develop the site and deliver much needed new homes in the borough being unrealised. One of the priority projects to redevelop the ELPM site for housing set out in the Radcliffe SRF will be unfulfilled.