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Developer for £347m Gateshead Homes Plan Chosen

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Gateshead Council has agreed to form a joint venture partnership with Evolution Gateshead, a consortium of Home Group and Galliford Try, to build around 2,400 new homes in Gateshead.

Cabinet members made their final decision today (12 April) on which of the two remaining shortlisted developers would be selected as preferred developer for the task of creating homes on 19 different sites in Gateshead.

 The 19 sites – which are already in Council ownership or are in the process of being acquired and include both greenfield and brownfield sites –will be developed over a period of 15-20 years by a Joint Venture Vehicle (JVV), which is a formal partnership between Gateshead Council and Evolution Gateshead.

Creating a joint venture partnership means that both sides will be able to share the risks - and the rewards - of any major housing development, and reduces the Council’s reliance on central government funding. In addition, it will allow a whole package of sites to be developed, including important regeneration sites which will greatly improve the choice of homes available to people wanting to live in Gateshead.

The 19 sites total approximately 70 hectares and include Birtley Northside, the former Rail Freight Depot on the Felling by-pass, sites in Rowlands Gill, Chopwell and Bensham and Saltwell.

In announcing Evolution Gateshead as the preferred developer, the council has brought to a close a two and half year search for a development partner capable of meeting the Council’s ambitious vision for the borough. The procurement process was launched in November 2008 and bidders have been gradually whittled down from an initial list of 19 developer and house builders to only one.

Sheila Johnston, Director of Development and Enterprise, says: “This is a significant moment for Gateshead.”

“We have a unique insight into how local people want to see their communities develop because we speak to residents, involve them and listen carefully to what they have to say. It is their comments and their aspirations which have helped shape the proposals, and will continue to do so.

“The process to date has helped to identify the right partner for Gateshead. However, there is still a great deal of work to do to turn today’s decision into a formal legal partnership, and that work starts now. By early next year, we hope to have started on our very first housing development  - which is likely to be on the former Freightliner depot site in Felling. We have already seen Evolution Gateshead’s initial ideas for this site and they are very exciting.”

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Some of the imaginative proposals for the former Freightliner Depot site in Felling which helped to secure preferred bidder status for Evolution Gateshead.

Home Group is one of Britain's biggest housing and development businesses and England's number one provider of care and support. With assets of £1b and a £300m turnover, Home Group is a not-for-profit social enterprise with a mission to open doors for people across the UK.

Galliford Try is one of the UK’s leading construction, housebuilding and regeneration businesses with a £1.2bn turnover. A top ten construction company and the seventh largest housebuilder in the UK, Galliford Try has a track record of market-leading regeneration projects.

Mark Henderson, Chief Executive of Home Group, says:

“We want to build outstanding homes and flourishing communities, representing another chapter in Gateshead’s remarkable transformation. We’ve commissioned world-leading architects designing to the highest environmental standards. Our financial strength, expertise in housing and care and support, and local presence, coupled with Gateshead’s vision and an outstanding partner in Galliford Try, put us in a unique position to deliver.”

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Galliford Try Chief Executive Greg Fitzgerald commented: “We are delighted that Galliford Try will be working with Gateshead Council on the transformation of communities across Gateshead.  We look forward to using our expertise in creating quality, sustainable housing on one of the UK’s largest regeneration projects as well as creating employment and training opportunities for local people.”

The anticipated 2,400 new homes – which will include affordable housing - will be built to a minimum Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, which will ensure that they are among the best insulated and most energy-efficient homes in the UK.