New homes could mean cash boost

BUILDING in excess of 1,700 new homes in Felixstowe could generate more than £21million for roads, health services, education and leisure, it has been revealed.

BUILDING in excess of 1,700 new homes in Felixstowe could generate more than £21million for roads, health services, education and leisure, it has been revealed.

The money will come from a new “roof tax” which the government is currently introducing through new laws to make developers pay towards infrastructure when they create new homes.

In addition, Felixstowe is hoping to get many more millions to regenerate the resort from government and European funding projects after being given “growth area” status.

Planning officers said the new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) would generate at least £21m - it could be higher, possibly £20,000 per house, but the bill was still on its way through Parliament.

The money would pay for the impact of the new houses and their residents' needs - including ensuring there were enough school places, doctors, dentists, play areas, recreation facilities, road improvements - but not for a wish-list of projects to improve a much wider area.

Councillors are demanding developers lead the way in paying for a whole host of projects when new homes are built in the Felixstowe area.

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The list includes:

Significant improvements to the A14 dock spur roundabout;

Improved and new access to the port from Felixstowe, Walton and Trimley;

Good road access from any homes sites to the town centre;

Rail improvements - including a passenger service for portworkers into the dock;

Ensuring enough primary and high school education places;

Recreation projects - including play, sport and leisure provision;

Adequate health care;

Enough allotments.

Andy Smith, chairman of the local development framework task group, said other projects were also needed, including improvements to Seven Hills junction and a rail halt at Warren Heath.

He said: “The whole of this area is now part of a growth area and for the first time in many years we have the potential for significant government funding for infrastructure.

“If we are having to take the pain of new housing at the government's behest, then we should be going to the government to get some help to ameliorate that pain.

“It is unrealistic to expect developers to provide everything on our shopping list because we need to get housing in a range which people can afford so we need to be mature in what we demand from developers but we have the right to ask more from government.”

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DEVELOPERS fear the new levy will be an extra burden adding to their costs as a time when the housing market is in a serious downturn.

Ian Reid, of Citygates Developments, owners of the Great White Horse Hotel in Ipswich and also involved with other projects in the town, said developers accepted they should contribute to community needs, such as schools and roads, through legal agreements but he thought the new tax could be a step too far.

He said: “Developers already have to bear the costs of social housing within projects, legal agreements for infrastructure, eco-homes - what is not needed is another tax at a time when the industry is facing a difficult time and finances are much tighter.

“Developers are seen as easy targets. It is true there have been a good few years and people have been making good money but now people are losing money - it's cyclical.

“Government is expecting the industry to meet targets for house building, but this will just act an as a disincentive.

“People will say should I sell that land, should I borrow the money, will I be able to sell that housing - I think it will put people off.”

Tim Collins, a partner in Bidwells, who represent Trinity College, Cambridge, the major landowners in the Felixstowe area, said: “I just don't know what the implications of the new levy will be at the moment - there has been so much debate and people are now waiting for the dust to settle.

“I think the aim is to find a more obvious and open way to deal with contributions - a lot of current legal agreements are done confidentially and there needs to be a more straight-forward and accountable process for all parties.”

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