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West Suffolk agree plan for council-backed developer Barley Homes




West Suffolk House
West Suffolk House

A troubled council-owned housing developer has been given a one year lifeline.

Last week West Suffolk’s joint cabinet agreed a 12-month business plan for Barley Homes which will see it continue to develop sites.

But once Forest Heath and St Edmunsbury merge next year councillors will have to decide on the long-term future of the group.

Barley Homes was set up as a joint venture between west Suffolk councils and Suffolk County Council to build affordable housing and generate income. But earlier this month the county council announced it was pulling out of the group.

On Tuesday, Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, portfolio holder for housing, said she was ‘disappointed’ at the county council decision but said it was right to continue with the company.

“We know that many of the homes, including the affordable ones our communities need, are unlikely to be delivered commercially and that the profit would go into the pockets of developers rather than supporting services our communities rely on,” she said.

Cllr John Griffiths, leader of the shadow authority, said it should be seen as a ‘positive’ move.

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 (4375284)
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 (4375284)

But the decision to repay a £250,000 loan to the county council was branded 'ridiculous' by one councillor.

Cllr Diane Hind said she 'felt strongly' Suffolk County Council should not be repaid after its decision to bypass Barley Homes during the sale of Wamil Court, Mildenhall, left the developer unable to build a single house since its incorporation in 2016.

"I don't think we should pay the £250,000 because it means that Suffolk County Council will walk away being fully recompensed when its absolutely their fault that Barley Homes hasn't put a spade in the ground up until now," she said.

"Had they sold Wamil Court to Barley Homes at the price originally agreed we would have started work on it and we would have delivered urgently needed housing so it seems ridiculous that we're now helping them out."



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