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Government to test state-led development of private homes

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The government is set to take on the role of developer for the delivery of 10,000 new private-sale homes in Cambridgeshire.

The scheme heralds the start of a new, publicly backed housing drive led by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) which will plan, build and sell homes on public sector land.

This large-scale-housing-delivery model will be trialled for the development of the former RAF Oakington base in Cambridgeshire, where the programme’s “feasibility and economic impact” can be evaluated.

The news about the development - known as Northstowe - came in yesterday’s National Infrastructure Plan, which confirmed that the housing and regeneration quango would lead on the site.

According to the plan, the HCA will take the helm of the masterplanning and commissioning for the development as part of a bid deliver the project “up to twice as fast as conventional development routes”.

A masterplan approved for developer Gallagher and the HCA was approved for the site in 2012, since when planning work has been ongoing.

Outline approval for the development’s first 1,500 homes, a primary school, and a new town centre was granted in April this year.

At a launch event for the infrastructure plan, chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said the government’s planned new delivery model for Northstowe was designed to underscore its commitment to delivering new homes.

“The message to the housebuilding sector would be simple: if you don’t build them, we will,” he said.

According to the infrastructure plan, the government will report on the Netherstowe delivery vehicle before next spring’s budget.

It said feedback would include an evaluation of the “feasibility and economic impacts” of pursuing the model on a wider scale.

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