Westmorland and Furness Council Leader, Cllr Jonathan Brook, and Cabinet colleagues joined a national housebuilder to discuss how to help more local people get on the property ladder.
The Councillors were hosted by Persimmon at their Woodberry Heights and Carleton Meadows developments in Penrith, which are delivering over 500 new homes between them.
The adjoining sites on the edge of the town provide a wide range of properties from two-bedroom terrace and semi-detached properties, through to large five-bedroom detached homes.
In total, 168 properties across the two developments will be transferred to the Council and local housing associations.
Councillors were given a tour of the newest phase under construction, meeting some of the local apprentices currently working on the site.
Residents welcomed the opening of a new toddler play area last month, with further play areas to come as construction progresses.
Daily bus services are also now operational, with six buses calling daily at two stops on the development providing connectivity to Penrith town centre.
Nearly £2 million has been paid to the local authority by Persimmon in funding contributions for investment in local education provision and transport infrastructure.
As well as discussions around housing delivery and job creation, Cllr Brook and Cabinet members were briefed on the issue of nutrient neutrality regulations, which are being blamed for delaying in excess of 160,000 new homes across the country.
The issue is of particular significance in Cumbria with the proposed garden village at Carlisle under threat as a result.
Westmorland & Furness Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, Cllr Judith Derbyshire, said; “Westmorland & Furness Council is already a significant social landlord, after inheriting housing stock from Barrow and Eden.
“It is our intention to build on that solid foundation by working with partners, like Persimmon, to invest in and support the development of more much needed council owned and affordable housing across the area.
“We’re delighted that a further six three-bedroom homes were transferred to council ownership on this Penrith development, at the end of August. Those properties will join the homes already transferred by Persimmon, with a further six three-bedroom homes to be transferred in December, followed by an apartment block consisting of six two-bedroom apartments in December 2024. Bringing the total number of council owned properties on the development to 81.”
Westmorland & Furness Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Communities and Localities, Cllr Virginia Taylor, said; “Our site visit was a useful and informative opportunity to inspect progress on the Council’s Persimmon partnered developments in Penrith.
“The Council is keen to explore opportunities for providing more affordable and sustainable housing options for local communities in Westmorland and Furness.
“Partnerships with developers - such as Persimmon - will be key to unlocking those opportunities and ensuring that local people can afford to live, work and raise their families in their own communities.
“With that in mind, it was also instructive to hear the perspective of a major property developer, like Persimmon, on how the shortage of skilled local labour affects their plans – as well as planning hold-ups such as Natural England’s strict rules on nutrient neutrality.
“We are keen to work with and support developers to mitigate such problems, in order to secure fit-for-purpose, affordable and sustainable housing that meets the needs of local communities.”
Anthony Mansfield, Persimmon’s Managing Director covering Cumbria said; “It was great to be able to host the Leader and Cabinet members of the new Council and brief them on our work across the region.
“Cumbria is a significant part of our business and we’re delighted with the excellent customer feedback we have received on our developments in Penrith.
“Along with the hundreds of jobs we support locally, we also have over 50 apprentices across the wider region working on sites including here in Penrith, Carlisle and Workington.
“Without a quick resolution to the problems faced by new nutrient neutrality regulations however, housing delivery in certain areas could soon grind to a halt, hurting both homebuyers and impacting job opportunities locally.”