£2 billion homes venture for Letchworth, Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City and St Albans

Chalkdene is set to deliver more than 500 homes in Letchworth, Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, St Alb

Chalkdene is set to deliver more than 500 homes in Letchworth, Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, St Albans and elsewhere. File photo. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hertfordshire County Council has entered a joint venture to build new homes in Letchworth, Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, St Albans and elsewhere as part of a £2 billion development scheme.

The 50:50 partnership between the county council’s property company Herts Living Ltd and homebuilder Morgan Sindall is for 15 years, with an option for a further five. It aims to build 500 homes on sites across the county.

The partnership, Chalkdene Developments, is initially looking at 12 sites in Letchworth, Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, St Albans, Cheshunt, Wormley, Watford and South Oxhey. They are a mixture of unused council buildings and land.

The Letchworth locations are the former Lannock Primary School – where the county council last month got planning permission for up to 44 homes – and a former old people’s home.

In Stevenage, the land selected used to house Lonsdale School.

In Welwyn Garden City, the sites are a former old people’s home and a slice of land at Waterbeach, Bericot Way. In St Albans, the site is the old Ariston Centre off Heathlands Drive.

A total of 40 sites have been identified. If all of them are developed, the gross value could be as high as £2 billion.

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Morgan Sindall Investments won the joint venture with Herts Living Ltd after a competitive tender process launched by the county council last May.

The council has said it wants to take a more active role in developments, and is set to lend up to £50 million in capital loans to Herts Living to put towards the venture during 2018/19.

The idea is that Morgan Sindall will provide its development skills and access to private funding to the venture. It is set to deliver the work using its development arm Lovell and its intrastructure division.

Morgan Sindall chief executive John Morgan said: “This win demonstrates the potential for our investments division to become a meaningful contributor to group profits.

“It also reflects our ability to leverage our diversified portfolio of businesses to offer our partners and customers a comprehensive solution spanning strategic partnerships and project delivery.”

Herts Living managing director Steve Faber added: “We are delighted to be working with Morgan Sindall Investments to deliver new, high quality, sustainable houses that will help the county to meet the needs of its growing population, reduce the housing shortage and provide much needed social housing and community assets.”