Land buy-back could see 320 new homes built

House building. Construction on a Hopkins Homes site. Picture: ANDREW HENDRY

The legal process has been started to repurchase the land - Credit: Archant

Essex County Council is set to buy back land it sold 20 years ago to allow housing to be built in Maldon.

Proposals to build up to 320 new homes on land west of Knowles Farm were approved last August.

Essex County Council has now started the process of acquiring the land in line with a land deal option agreed between itself and Angus and Alicia Bates in 2002.

That allows the council to repurchase some or all of the land if it was allocated in the local plan for uses other than agriculture.

The option period is valid until May 14 next year.

Dartmouth Park Estates (DPE) submitted the plan for the Knowles Farm Land to Maldon District Council in 2015 and it was approved last year, subject to the completion of a section 106 Agreement relating to items including affordable housing and a new South Maldon relief road to be built by Essex County Council.

Under the terms of the promotion agreement, DPE can direct that the Knowles Farm Land is sold to a developer and DPE have the right to exercise an option to purchase it.

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The future sale of the residential land will provide a capital receipt for Essex County Council to reinvest in its capital programme.

However, there are a number of outstanding matters in relation to the purchase price payable to Mr and Mrs Bates for all or part of the Knowles Farm Land and the potential onward sale of all or part of the land to a developer or DPE.

A statement as part of a cabinet decision to be signed off by Kevin Bentley, leader of the council, said: “It is possible that, if the council, DPE and Mr and Mrs Bates cannot agree the purchase price, the matter may need to be referred for dispute resolution.

“It is not possible to confirm the purchase price or whether the matter should be referred for determination at this stage and therefore it is proposed that such decision, is agreed by the executive director, corporate services when further information is available.

“The service of the option notice is an incremental step in acquiring the land.

“It is proposed that the cabinet member for economic renewal, infrastructure and planning is authorised to agree any conditional sale of all or part of the Knowles Farm Land to facilitate a capital receipt.”

The council adds: “The acquisition of this land will facilitate the construction of the South Maldon Relief Road, which forms part of the transport infrastructure strategy and enables the future growth of Maldon."