Suffolk County Council have announced their intention to pull out of the controversial commercial housebuilding company they established with West Suffolk Councils in 2015, Barley Homes.
Originally set up to deliver much-needed homes during a housing crisis as well as generate income for cash-strapped councils, this joint venture company has to date failed to build a single home. Plans submitted for developments in Haverhill by Barley Homes have attracted great criticism from local residents and some sitting Conservative councillors, suggesting it may still be quite some time before the first handover of a key.
Cllr Andrew Stringer, Leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group at Suffolk County Council, commented:
“It is terribly ironic that in the same week we learn the Council is predicting an £8.6m overspend, we’re also told that they plan to abandon Barley Homes, a long-heralded source of income cited by this Conservative administration.
The whole point of that project was to generate desperately-needed income whilst also building much-needed homes our county could be proud of. After two years, not a single house has been built, countless hours and resources have been spent, and we’re still facing a housing crisis in Suffolk. What exactly have they been doing all this time?
I find it remarkable that I, as a private citizen, have managed to build more houses in the last two years in my spare time than Barley Homes has.
We believe the future for the County Council in bringing forward sustainable housing development is to form partnerships with experienced stakeholders on a case-by-case basis, such as we recently have in Cockfield. More importantly we have the opportunity, as the third biggest landowner in Suffolk, to support and promote skilled Suffolk tradespeople and suppliers.”