Formation of council-owned development company in Northampton confirmed by cabinet

Cabinet agreed to set up the company at The Guildhall on Wednesday evening
Cabinet agreed to set up the company at The Guildhall on Wednesday evening

A new council-owned housing development company will now be formed to build more homes in Northampton.

On Wednesday evening at The Guildhall, Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet approved the formation of its own non-charitable housing company that will ‘build homes for sale and rent, and speed up housing development’.

It will also help reduce the use of temporary accommodation in the town, which is listed as the company’s ‘top priority’.

Cabinet member for housing, Councillor Stephen Hibbert, said: “I make no apologies for making that the number one priority. The cost of temporary accommodation will eat up the budget if we don’t do something about it.

“Each scheme by the development company will be fully costed and come back to cabinet for approval.”

The principle of setting up such a development company (DevCo) was agreed by the borough’s cabinet back in July, and the meeting saw them rubber stamp a £50,000 investment - from the council’s reserves - for start-up costs and producing a business plan. The business plan will also be approved by cabinet at a later date.

Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH) is expected to act as the company’s development agent.

Meeting papers say the company will help "accelerate housing delivery and play a more influential role in place-shaping, regeneration, meeting housing demand and maximising the supply of new homes".

The company, which will be named Hamtune Homes Limited after the Saxon name for Northampton, will have other priorities too, such as increasing the supply of affordable homes, ‘cross-subsidising’ mixed housing developments and supporting housing schemes which can provide extra income to the council’s general fund.

Funding for any development could be provided through borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) or from other financial institutions.

Labour councillor Rufia Ashraf, shadow cabinet member for housing, said she ‘welcomed the idea of more affordable homes’, but questioned the number of people who would be behind making decisions for the company.

Councillor Hibbert offered his assurances that he was ‘confident that the scheme will work’.

The cabinet meeting also saw Phil Harris, the council's head of housing and wellbeing, and the authority's housing options and advice manager confirmed as the two initial directors of Hamtune Homes Ltd.