ABOUT 350 homes could be built on the site of a former Tilbury secondary school after the council finalised plans to set up its own house-building firm.
More than 8,000 homes, many of which already have planning permission, could be built across Thurrock with the help of “Gloriana”, the council’s own company, which would buy, or lease, councilowned land and employ construction companies to build on them.
St Chad’s secondary school, off Northview Avenue, closed in 2003 and was demolished in 2009. It has been earmarked as the first site for development by Gloriana, which will borrow more than £60million to help with rising housing demands in Thurrock.
The council’s cabinet gave the go-ahead for the authority to press on with plans to design homes for the school site.
Tilbury Labour councillor Lynn Worrall said she was fed up with the site, which recently became an illegal traveller site.
Council leader John Kent said: “The company will be building homes, directly creating jobs and directly showing developers how it makes sense to build here.
"There are about 8,000 outstanding planning permissions for homes in Thurrock that have not been started.”
He added: “The former St Chad’s school site has been hanging over this council for years. It has become an eyesore and a magnet for antisocial behaviour and – of late – an illegal traveller encampment.”
However, Phil Anderson, the Conservative leader, raised concerns over how the company will be funded.
He said: “This scheme has the potential to deliver key Conservative priorities, like helping people out of dependency and giving them a foot on the housing ladder.
"But, if Labour is confident that their numbers add up, why won’t they bring them to the full council for an open vote? This is one of the biggest financial decisions this council has made in a decade.”
But the council insists it is carefully borrowing all the money.
GLORIANA will be financed by the council borrowing funds, selling the land to Gloriana at the going rate, and getting equity in the company. All returns and profits go back to the council.
Gloriana will not build the homes, but employ a construction firm, creating local jobs.
The council then plans to look at its allocations policy so it can ensure that homes, once they are built, go to local people as a priority.