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Nearly 3,000 homes to be built across Suffolk in next 15 years through joint venture



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Nearly 3,000 homes will be built across Suffolk in the next 15 years through a new joint venture company between the council and private sector – and that number could rise in the coming years.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet gave its backing a year ago to form a joint venture company to facilitate housing on underutilised council land.

The authority’s cabinet next week is set to conclude the contract procurement process that will see a partner company picked to form the new venture.

Plans for the Mildenhall homes. Picture: Bluepencil Designs Limited.
Plans for the Mildenhall homes. Picture: Bluepencil Designs Limited.

Ahead of the decision, the council’s housing bosses have confirmed that current projects in the pipeline total between 2,600 and 2,800 homes across five sites, but could expand as more sites come forward.

An initial 15-year lifespan for the new joint venture has been outlined.

Duncan Johnson, head of strategic housing, said: “We agreed an objective with the cabinet last year, which was about accelerating the delivery of the council’s priorities, and this is about maximising social value, providing the types of homes that Suffolk needs, and across a range of sites meeting our climate sustainability commitments.

The Mildenhall master plan. Picture: Bluepencil Designs Limited.
The Mildenhall master plan. Picture: Bluepencil Designs Limited.

“The joint venture is picking up five specific sites, and it is about bringing some expertise, some funding and some experience from the market in order to deliver not only high quality homes in terms of design, but also a future homes standard addressing climate sustainability.”

Headlining the current sites are two large developments of 1,300 homes each – one in north Lowestoft and another to the west of Mildenhall.

The other three confirmed for the new joint venture are 114 on county farm land in Bramford, 45-50 on the former St Felix Middle School site in Newmarket and 106 in West Row, for which a planning application has just been submitted.

In addition, the council is also pursuing other housebuilding projects which will be worked on outside of the new joint venture.

The Bramford design. Picture: Suffolk County Council.
The Bramford design. Picture: Suffolk County Council.

The council said the joint venture projects aimed to utilise the industry expertise of the partner firm.

The joint venture will allow the council to have a higher level of control over housing needed, which could include more affordable homes, bungalows, first-time buyer properties or retirement homes.

The authority pledged to be collaborative with districts, and would utilise sustainable measures such as ground and air source heat pumps and electric vehicle provision.

It also aims to help boost the Suffolk economy by utilising local supply chains, partner organisations and offer apprenticeship opportunities.

Rob Hancock, programme manager at Suffolk County Council, said: “We do have the option in future to add more sites in should they come forward if sites get allocated in future plans or if the planning position allows, but that will be something treated on a case-by-case basis.

“This is clearly a long term initiative. The JV will have a 15 year lifespan and these five sites will be built out over that 15 year period.

“It will most likely be the smaller sites that come forward first, and we can anticipate being on the ground in late 2023 at West Row [subject to planning approval] and then the larger Mildenhall and Lowestoft sites will typically be built out around 150 a year, so a 10-12 year type lifespan for those sites.”