Worthing Borough Council is set to make a Â£12.5m intervention in the long-running saga of the townâ€™s Teville Gate site.
Councillors are set to meet next week (3 November) to discuss plans for the local authority to enter a joint venture partnership with the housing provider VIVID to take over the site and finally bring some momentum to development which has stalled for decades.
VIVID is a strategic partner of the governmentâ€™s Homes England body and was named Housing Association of the Year in 2019 by What House?
Current owners Mosaic Global Investments Ltd has recently indicated it wants to sell the land, citing doubts caused by the pandemic as cause to end its plans for its â€˜Station Squareâ€™ development on the site.
New Start interviewed Mosaicâ€™s chief executive, Aized Sheikh, back in 2017 about its plans for the site.
Fearing that another drawn out sale will further delay progress a council report says the best option may be for the authority to intervene and bring forward a plan to build 230 new homes on the site, 130 of which will be designated affordable.
Under the proposed deal, the council and VIVID have agreed in principle to purchase the site from Mosaic.
Worthing Borough council will share the development risk of delivering 100 new homes for market sale. The affordable accommodation will be developed and managed by VIVID for the long term with the council able to secure nomination rights for a proportion of new homes for people currently on the housing waiting list.
The investment from the local authority would be in the region of Â£12.5m but, the report points out, 50 per cent of the sale proceeds of the market homes would return to the authority.
If the homes were built and sold within three years at a 10% profit the council would return a surplus.
â€˜For years we have worked so hard to try to bring development forward at Teville Gate but as it has been privately owned we have had little control of the outcome,â€™ said executive member for regeneration, Cllr Kevin Jenkins.
â€˜If this proposal succeeds it means we can take Tevilleâ€™s destiny into our own hands. It means taking on managed risk but if successful it will bring much needed new homes and new life to this part of Worthing. Perhaps now is the time to intervene positively to help our local economy recover from the terrible effects the pandemic has had on the entire UK.â€™
Worthing Liberal Democrat Cllr Bob Smytherman told New Start: â€˜We are broadly in support of the council taking the initiative to deliver a supply affordable and social homes that is much needed on this derelict brownfield site.
â€˜I have called for the site to be opened up in the mean time for community use such as a covid testing centre until planning consent is grant and the joint venture ready to start work.â€™