A vast housing development in Kent being undertaken by Land Securities has been taken off ice after ministers, councillors and developers reached agreement on S106 conditions.
The plans, over a decade old, will provide around 22,600 homes over the next two decade, while creating 60,000 jobs and bringing a brownfield site back into use.
Phase one, in Eastern Quarry, Ebbsfleet, will deliver 1,500 homes. The firm has already invested more than £100m in the site, but the plans were put on hold when complications arose over cost and transport infrastructure.
Construction is hoped to begin next summer, with the first homes set to be completed by December 2013. Eastern Quarry is part of the million-square-metre Kent Thameside project.
A breakthrough was understood to have been achieved when Kent County Council, Dartford and Gravesham Borough Councils agreed with the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency to reduce the costs of transport infrastructure. The DfT and the Highways Agency will now begin work on two junction improvements, working with their council partners.
Land Securities is expected to contribute almost £25m towards the Homes and Roads Programme costs, while the councils will also put a proportion of their New Homes Bonus payments towards the investment programme.
Housing minister Grant Shapps signalled he was keen for government, local authorities, and private developers to work together on such schemes in the future: “It’s frustrating that while the need for homes in Kent and the surrounding area has continued to grow, the Kent Thameside development - offering the opportunity for tens of thousands of new homes - has been stuck on the drawing board for a whole decade.
“So I’m delighted that we’re finally taking steps forward to get builders on site and work finally started. This historic deal offers a double benefit to the local area, a commitment to improve the road network but also to deliver over 22,600 properties over the next 20 years - with the first homes set to be completed in little over a year from now.”
Transport minister Mike Penning said: “The government has been clear about the need to maintain a pipeline of future transport infrastructure improvements given their importance in delivering economic growth.
“By agreeing to carry out the necessary preparatory work for potential future junction improvements on the A2, we have been able to show our commitment and give the confidence needed by private sector developers to allow them to begin the delivery of the ambitious new housing programme in Kent Thameside.”
Kent Council Council leader Paul Carter said the development “signals our continued intent to increase construction activity in Kent.” He added that the council has “real growth ambitions and this site signifies our intent to unlock the potential of the Thames Gateway”.
“Where sites are stalled we will talk to developers about ways of releasing sites in the short term. However we will only work with those that are intent on accelerating development.”
Land Securities head of London development Colette O’Shea said the firm was pleased “that a way forward has been found to unlock the potential at Eastern Quarry and we will now sit down with our housebuilding partners and press ahead to start delivering homes and jobs.”