What was such a secret about a green light to build new homes on the former Westec House site? A landmark decision has been made by the Council (held in secret) to approve a scheme that will see the authority build houses specifically to be sold for the first time. This exciting project to build 27 new homes on the former Westec House site , close to the Council offices in Derby Street, in the heart of Ormskirk, was agreed at the Council meeting on Wednesday 13 December. The site was formerly occupied by Westec House, a Council office base which was demolished in 2014.
With planning permission already granted for the development and a preferred contractor established, the Council hopes to confirm a start date for the construction shortly. The Council hopes to have more exciting projects in the future as it is looking to form a new development company to help it achieve its ambitions for development across the Borough.
Of the 27 homes that are to be built on the former Westec House site, 18 will be houses to be put on the open market for sale. These will comprise of: Three two-bedroom terraced houses; Eight two-bedroom semi-detached houses; Six three-bedroom semi-detached houses; One three-bedroom detached house. Another two-bedroom terraced house will be available for shared ownership. The other eight homes will be one-bedroom apartments to be retained by the Council and rented on an affordable basis.
The project will be funded from a combination of sources, including prudent borrowing and the Housing Revenue Account. Councillor Ian Moran Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council, said “This is a really exciting project for the Borough that will realise the potential for this site with the building of new homes. As well as providing 27 new homes, the scheme will have an extra benefit of bringing in much needed funds for the Council. Like many other authorities across the country, we are facing difficult financial challenges, and also have to become self-financing by 2020. The funds raised from the sale of homes will go towards supporting the Council’s capital programme and helping to meet our priorities”.
Many local councils have formed business partnerships with developers to start building affordable homes. Sheffield and Keepmoat is a classic case of such an arrangement with many homes now built. 11 councils have created a company or are about to do so, including Bournemouth, South Northamptonshire, and Wolverhampton, and yet another 40+ making arrangements. Croydon council created Brick by Brick last year, an independent development company that plans to build 1,100 homes in the next two years, half of which will be affordable. Profits from homes built and sold, as well as income from rents, will go to the council, as 100% shareholder in the company. WLBC should do the same!