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Development scheme to deliver 140 homes and up to £3m for council

PUBLISHED: 16:22 14 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:22 14 October 2019

The Thetford Riverside Complex. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

The Thetford Riverside Complex. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

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A scheme to develop council-owned land into more than 140 homes - and raise up to £3m in cash - will continue until 2035.

Breckland councillor Paul Hewett. Photo: Breckland CouncilBreckland councillor Paul Hewett. Photo: Breckland Council

Breckland Council, which set up the property development project, Breckland Bridge Partnership, in 2015, will continue the initiative for the next 15 years, after the cabinet reviewed its involvement.

Paul Hewett, executive member for contracts and assets, welcomed the news, saying: "It makes sense for our residents and businesses."

Since its inception five years ago, the partnership - which the council owns 90pc of, with private sector developer, the Land Group, owning just 10pc - has brought in almost half a million in revenue.

READ MORE: £8m Riverside complex cost council £250,000 while it sat empty

The Thetford Riverside Complex. Picture: Rebecca MurphyThe Thetford Riverside Complex. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

Completed projects include the £8m Thetford Riverside Leisure Complex, which saw questions raised after it emerged the council had lost out on more than £250,000 in rent while units sat empty.

New homes have also been built in Mileham and at a former Attleborough primary school.

A report brought before the cabinet, on Monday, October 14, stated that cash return from the partnership equalled £460,000 from land sales, fees and interest, while capital repayments totalled £270,000, with interest of £57,000.

Councillors, who unanimously voted to continue the project, also approved a new arm of the partnership, known as "small site delivery" which will make it easier to develop smaller plots.

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They also moved Breckland Bridge into a 50/50 ownership divide, giving the Land Group half of risks, funding and profit.

The report also found changes to the project, including a "new financially focused vision", as opposed to regeneration or growth focused, were required, and councillors agreed to "use property assets and reserves to create positive financial return".

Mr Hewett, Conservative councillor for Shipdham and Scarning, who prepared the report, said no objections were made at the meeting, and added: "There had been quite extensive consultation beforehand.

"It makes sense for us and our residents and businesses."

The scheme, which could generate returns of between £2m and £3m, will require the council to commit "significant temporary cash on a rolling basis", which the report described as a risk.

But Mr Hewett said the amounts would be limited and on a project by project basis, and added: "As long as we're managing it well, there is a risk but the rewards and benefits outweigh that."

READ MORE: New houses to be built on former school playing fields

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