A DEVELOPMENT initiative to help meet the future housing needs of Chester and West Cheshire, including affordable homes, is due to be considered by councillors on Tuesday (October 14).
The West Cheshire Growth Point has Government backing for more homes to be built across Cheshire West and Chester to help tackle the shortage of affordable housing in the area, particularly on derelict and brownfield sites.Š
The joint bid, which could see funds pour into the area from a £100m Government kitty, was submitted by Chester City Council, Vale Royal Borough Council, Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council and Cheshire County Council.
The city council's Executive is due to be asked on Tuesday (October 14) to agree that development portfolio holder Cllr Stuart Parker (Con, Christleton) should have powers to approve a submission for funding due with the Department for Communities and Local Government by October 27.Š
Councillors will be told the partnership has contacted a number of organisations to seek their support and work is in progress on the bid.Š
Issues it will highlight include the strong economic role West Cheshire plays within the sub region and the North West for employment, retail and tourism.
The Government will be told that housing growth can link with employment development to regenerate communities and reduce the need for travel.Š
The proposals would also link with plans for schools, higher education, health care, culture and sport.Š
They will set out the need for housing in the area, particularly affordable and outline the key sites.Š
In Chester, these are identified as the city centre and the North East urban action area where Cllr Parker says there are existing sites with planning permission and other allocations which are not yet developed.Š
In West Chester sites have been identified in Blacon where there is a proposal for the redevelopment of The Parade to unlock housing, health and retail sites.Š
The comprehensive redevelopment of Saighton Camp is also said to be a key issue provided this is accessed off the A55.Š
Cllr Parker suggests there is also the potential for development at The Dale camp and at Wrexham Road.Š
He believes that development could be phased to ensure that brownfield sites are released before any review of the Green Belt is considered whilst ensuring that a balanced mix of housing is provided.Š
The aim is that up to 40% would be affordable.
He points out, however, that "inevitably housing demand and economic circumstances will change during the nine-year life of the growth point initiative.''Š
Other key projects include Cycle Chester, which it is hoped will deliver "dramatic improvements", the Chester transport strategy including the Chester Western Relief Road to reduce congestion, support economic growth and the re generation of the city centre along with improved access to jobs and key services in Chester and improvements in the city centre as part of Chester Renaissance.Š
Councillors hope it will be known early in 2009 if their bid for funding has been successful.Š
The partnership has already been awarded £150,000 of Government money to develop its proposals.Š
The Government invited bids for New Growth Point Status from all authorities in England as part of its objective to increase the number of houses in the country by 2016, especially in areas of fast economic growth, such as West Cheshire.
The bid highlighted the potential for new housing in the area and the ready availability of brownfield sites in sustainable locations.Š
The city council argues that Chester is recognised as the heart of the sub region, with a concentration of highly skilled workers and a cluster of financial and business services making it an important growth area which makes a significant contribution to the economy of the north west.Š
It believes it is important that new homes are provided to help continue its economic success.Š
Decisions on the future of potential development sites would be made in consultation with local people and would be subject to planning permission being obtained.
Proposals will also look at ways in which the energy efficiency of new homes can be improved and how more sustainable ways of travelling, such as wa lking, cycling and public transport can be promoted.Š
Cllr Parker describes the possibilities as "fantastic”.