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Suffolk's decision to pull out of homes developer will 'reduce governance, bureaucracy, overheads and duplication'




Barley Homes' said it was 'dedicated to creating diverse, sustainable communities to the highest standards'. Above, plans for the Haverhill site, which still have not been granted planning permission (4154572)
Barley Homes' said it was 'dedicated to creating diverse, sustainable communities to the highest standards'. Above, plans for the Haverhill site, which still have not been granted planning permission (4154572)

A county council has pulled out of its affordable housing company because the set up is 'too complicated'.

Developer Barley Homes was a joint venture between West Suffolk and Suffolk County Council to help offset cuts to council budgets and build affordable housing. But the county council decided it would cut ties on Tuesday because 'the complex partnership makes the work of the board difficult'.

The decision means the county council will transfer its stake of the group to West Suffolk councils.

Richard Smith, cabinet member for finance and assets at Suffolk County Council, said: "We have agreed that it is simpler and more effective if Suffolk County Council withdraws from the company at this point and focuses on its strategic role in the broader delivery of housing across Suffolk, whilst district and borough councils lead on local schemes."

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, west Suffolk councils' cabinet member for housing, said the change "will reduce governance, bureaucracy, overheads and duplication".

"Barley Homes provides a significant opportunity to make best use of public assets and deliver the right homes to support our local communities. It also means the local West Suffolk taxpayer will see the community and financial benefits rather than the commercial sector which would have been unlikely to deliver these much needed schemes," said the Conservative councillor.

The decision comes months after the Journal first reported of difficulties at the developer, with financial pressures at the county council putting them at loggerheads with the district.

West Suffolk councils agreed to establish a housing development company in 2015, and said it would serve to increase economic growth and provide 'high quality' homes as well as a series of financial benefits for the local authorities.

But, despite being incorporated since 2016, the developer has not yet built any homes.

A former care home site in Mildenhall, Wamil Court, remains on the market after the county refused to sell and a proposed development of 14 homes in Haverhill has been heavily criticised by local councillors. Under original plans, building work was expected to start at the first site in Autumn 2016.

As part of Suffolk's move to end its relationship with the developer, West Suffolk councils, which owns 50 per cent of the developer, is set to pay back a £250,000 the county lent to the developer to set up. West Suffolk councillors are also set to vote on a new business plan later in the month.



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