Huge area of farmland to be sold off so more than 1,000 homes can be built in North Yorkshire

Land for more than 1,100 homes is being sold off by Middlesbrough Council.

The farmland at Newham Hall will provide space for at least 1,000 new homes over the sprawling 71-hectare site. The council will also sell off empty land at Hemlington North, at the junction of Stainton Way and the B1365, for up to 30 homes and at Hemlington Grange South for around 150 homes.

All three sites are marked in the 2014 Local Plan for housing and the council is concerned it would be open to significant challenges from developers if it did not put the land on the market.

The report states: “The development of the identified sites will bring surplus, vacant and underutilised council held assets into far more beneficial use in the future – creating new communities and high-quality places.”

The farmland near Newham Hall

The sale of the land is required to generate cash for the council through the initial sale of the sites but it would also increase the council tax base providing new yearly income.

Given the high levels of deprivation in Middlesbrough, and the majority of properties being in the lower two bands, the council is not able to rely on high council tax contributions like local authorities in more affluent areas are.

The council has said there will be major opportunities for people in the area to engage with the plans for the sites as they develop.

Conservative deputy mayor Coun Mieka Smiles said a community levy would apply with the sale of the land. This means the community will receive 3 per cent of the sale, providing it goes for near/above the target price. This could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds in this instance.

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The Newham Hall site is expected to attract significant national and regional interest and will take around 10 to 15 years to complete. It will be mostly made up of three and four-bed family homes. There will also be a primary school and community open space.

A tenancy was in place for the farmland until April 2018, and while it is currently let as farmland, there is a short termination process that does not subject the council to any compensation claims.

Professional advice provided to the council suggests there is a desire for this type of development, despite there being other competing sites like the proposed Stainsby Country Park. The council will seek advice on this development from an external specialist from Knight Frank.

The Hemlington North site, which is at the north-eastern tip of the wider Hemlington Grange estate, was originally earmarked for development by MHomes (now Middlesbrough Development Company) but following the council’s change in direction to encourage more people to live in the town centre it will now be put on the market.

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston has stated he wants to attract an additional 4,000 people to live in the town centre. The Hemlington Grange South site should be developed for three and four-bedroom detached and semi-detached homes, according to the local plan.

Coun David Coupe raised concern that the current Hemlington Grange development did not have enough community facilities and that would need to be kept in mind for future projects.

etailed planning permission has been granted for 981 homes at Hemlington Grange and more than 400 have already been built.

Members of the Middlesbrough Alternative Planning Partnership (MAPP) had called for the issue to be deferred and believe that strategic decisions on housing should be held off and form part of the process to create the revised Local Plan.

The sale of the land does not automatically give the developers the right to build housing. All plans will need to be approved by the council.