Published: 10:00, 04 January 2016
| Updated: 10:40, 04 January 2016
Up to 500 homes will be built on a former barracks as the Government tries to fast-track construction of affordable housing on publicly-owned land.
Connaught Barracks in Dover, an ex-MOD site, has been selected as one of five areas across the country to receive a share of £1.2 billion of Treasury cash to build 30,000 starter homes by 2020.
The 136-acre garrison has sat derelict since the 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment left in 2006.
The Homes and Communities Agency bought it in 2008 but said it had laid dormant because private developers considered it too big a challenge, due to the complex demolition works and utility upgrades required.
The Government said it would save taxpayers’ money by commissioning constructoin directly and said up to 40% of the homes built would be affordable starter homes.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Today’s package signals a huge shift in government policy.
"Nothing like this has been done on this scale in three decades – government rolling its sleeves up and directly getting homes built.
“Backed up with a further £1.2 billion to get homes built on brownfield sites, it shows we will do everything we can to get Britain building and let more people have the security that comes with a home of their own.”
Communities Secretary Greg Clark, who is the MP for Tunbridge Wells, said: “We’re pulling out all the stops to keep the country building with a clear ambition to deliver a million homes by 2020 and support hard-working people into home ownership.
“Today’s radical new approach will mean the government will directly commission small and up-and-coming companies to build thousands of new homes on sites right across the country.
“This, and the £1.2 billion new starter homes fund, will help thousands of people to realise their dream of owning their own home.”
Martin Hart, managing director of Folkestone-based house builder Pentland Homes, said: “I have been looking at the site with the HCA for the past two years, assisting where I can.
“Its a good brownfield site in a great location but it needed to be cleaned up and serviced. The HCA can now do this.
“I have been pushing for these large Government sites to be delivered in small parcels so that SMEs can get a better share of the housing land market.
“Its great news that the Government has listened and is now looking to deliver.”
The other four sites announced as part of the first wave of development are Northstowe in Cambridgeshire, Lower Graylingwell in Chichester, Daedelus on Waterfront in Gosport and Old Oak Common in north west London.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “When it comes to building new homes, the availability of small sites is the single biggest barrier to SME house builders increasing their output.
“Any measures that the government can introduce that will increase the number of small sites suitable for SME house builders will help address the housing shortfall.”