Council boss believes owners are sitting on land in the Fens waiting for the good times to come - but he’s unsure if they ever will!

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark MP. Visit to Wisbech last year. L

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark MP. Visit to Wisbech last year. Left: Greg Clark MP and Gary Garford corporate director FDC. - Credit: Archant

A senior director at Fenland Council believes owners are sitting on land in the Fens waiting for the good times to come – but he’s unsure if they ever will.

Gary Garford, long serving corporate director, told councillors on the overview and scrutiny committee that house buyers wanted to know what we have to offer. They want good education opportunities, good shops and infrastructure.

Mr Garford said he believed some land owners were sitting on their land waiting for the better times before they are willing to sell but it was not certain that those better times would come.

He said there was a need to educate all parts of the chain to improve housing vitality.

A report of the committee that met before Christmas but whose minutes has just been published, reports that finance chief Rob Bridge suggested that “the devolution deal offers £100 million for affording housing which will unlock money for infrastructure and move the processes forward with regards to feasibility studies which are holding up some developments”.


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Planning portfolio cabinet member Will Sutton said there was no shortage of applications to build and the system itself was not holding up development.

He is reported as telling councillors that the council sent out a brochure to developers and house builders to promote the area.

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And Fenland Council remained committed to builders providing one affordable home for each five built unlike many who had moved to one in 10.

“Councillor Yeulett (chairman) asked Cllr Sutton what the biggest challenge is,” says the report. “Cllr Sutton stated that the biggest challenge is getting builders to build.”

Quizzed by Councillor Kay Mayor on the fact that 10 sites owned by the council had been put up for sale – and eight sold- couldn’t this land be used for affordable housing.

However Cabinet member Ralph Butcher said none of these sites were suitable for affordable housing.

The report adds that Mr Bridge was concerned that “we to have to balanced about building affordable housing as if we build more than 50 we could need to become a housing authority”.

Councillor Gavin Booth wanted to know whether the council- following the sale of its housing stock- had reserves available for new housing.

“Rob Bridge stated that out capital programme is as tight as it can be and the only way that we could have more in our capital pot is by releasing assets that we own like the plots at the Nene,” says the report.

“We need to decide if we would have to borrow money to do that as it would not be something that our resources could cover.

“We have borrowed from ourselves for the leisure proposals which minimises the costs to the council and as interest rates from banks and building societies are low it seems appropriate to use it in that way”.

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