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Story Homes named as HCA’s preferred developer for Shotley Bridge

Almost 300 much-needed new homes, at a site near Consett, have come an important step closer with the Homes and Communities Agency announcing Carlisle-based Story Homes as its preferred developer.

The agency’s North East team, based in Gateshead, which is maintaining momentum in the region’s housing market during the recession, has named Story for the 30 acres of surplus public land at the Shotley Bridge General Hospital site, which it owns.

The appointment of Story Homes, acting in partnership with social landlord, Riverside, means that the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is now negotiating an agreement for the transfer of land to the house builder.

Outline planning permission has already been granted for 279 houses, with 70 set to be affordable. Story is now undertaking ground investigation works, and it is expected that an exchange of contracts with the HCA will take place in June. The house builder will then submit plans to obtain detailed planning consent to Durham County Council.

Construction is expected to start next year and will comprise homes which suit buyers at all life stages, including first-time buyers, couples and families. The dwellings will range from contemporary two bedroom apartments to stylish two, three and four bedroom houses.

John Calvert, regeneration manager for the HCA, said: “We selected Story Homes as our preferred developer for this key site because of the high quality of their proposed scheme. They intend to produce energy efficient sustainable homes in an attractive layout.

“The public will be able to comment on the design prior to the planning application, when the plans are worked up in detail.

“This is an important project, as it will provide hundreds of new homes in an area where we know demand for quality housing is high. Having a quarter of these homes classed as affordable also means we’ll be able to ensure the development contains a healthy mix of tenures, which is an important consideration in the North East, where levels of rented accommodation are higher than the national average.

“The site will also provide much-needed affordable and sustainable homes for the local community.”

Fred Story, chief executive of Story Homes, said: “This is another major step in our regional expansion strategy and we are excited about bringing our award-winning product to a new market. The site is in a fantastic location and we are working hard to produce a design and layout to complement this. We look forward to working with the HCA to bring this site forward, resulting in a development that everyone can be proud of.”

The HCA is the new national housing and regeneration agency for England. It is responsible for creating opportunities for people to live in homes they can afford, in places where they want to live, and for local authorities and communities to deliver their ambitions for their areas. The body provides funding for affordable housing, brings land back into productive use and improves the quality of life, by raising standards for the physical and social environment.

Story Homes, an independent house builder with over 20 years’ experience, won the best development categories for both Cumbria and Dumfriesshire in the Daily Mail UK Property Awards 2008.

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