Cash bid hopes to give £5.5m kick-start to Aylesham development
A BID for £5.5 million of government cash could kick-start the stalled Aylesham village expansion development if it is successful.
Developers Hillreed and Ward Homes – which now comes under Barratt's Homes – have been put on a reserve list for a slice of the Growing Places cash which is being administered by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The application has been made by Dover District Council.
The LEP, which covers Kent, Essex, east Sussex, Medway, Thurrock and Southend, was granted £33 million from the pot last November and this was been topped up with an additional £7 million last month.
The scheme is aimed at providing money for infrastructure on projects on the back burner. The LEP invited proposals to be made in January and received 30 bids.
A meeting in March decided on 12 preferred bidders with three, including Aylesham, put in reserve.
The position means if a preferred projects falls through Aylesham may be considered. If not the scheme will be examined again this summer when a second round of funding is given out.
Now Dover District Council is hoping to push forward to get planning consent in place to give the project a better chance of gaining the cash.
DDC leader Paul Watkins said: "We are very near issuing planning consent and completing developer agreements.
"There was a kick-start bid for Aylesham but unfortunately that was not successful. But the bid for the Growing Places fund from the LEP has been designated as a reserve scheme.
"We need to effectively get planning consents out the door. The LEP agreed 12 schemes for the next stage of due diligence and the key consideration is that these projects should have planning consent and be capable of early delivery.
"There is now a second round of Growing Places funding from the LEP and we want Aylesham to fit that criteria."
Hillreed Homes and Ward Homes were chosen by DDC in September 2006 to build 1,200 homes in Aylesham.
Work had been scheduled to begin in 2008 but delays caused by revisions to the application meant it still had not started a year later.
In 2009, wrangles over the price to be paid for the land, of which 81 per cent is owned by DDC, and the level of developer contributions to be made, including those to Kent County Council, led to these being reduced from £23 million to £16 million.
In March 2010, DDC agreed to enter into negotiations for a Deed of Variation. This changes some of the phasing of the 10-year scheme.
Now it is hoped the government cash can get the 10-year project back on track
A spokesman for Ward Homes said: "If Aylesham was granted the Government Growing Places funding, it would enable implementation of key infrastructure in the area to be brought forward on the build programme.
"The funding would also facilitate regeneration of the village, benefiting the area as a whole."
According to the project summary received by the LEP the expansion is expected to start at the end of this year and be completed in 2022, creating 1,361 construction jobs and 44 industry apprenticeships.