Leicester land deal paves way for new homes and school

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Leicester’s City Mayor has announced a new land deal paving the way for more affordable homes and a new free school in the city.

Three acres of land in Eyres Monsell – the site of the former Southfields and Newry schools – will be sold to Grange Developments (Abbey Park) Ltd for £1 on the condition that they build affordable homes on the site.

In a linked land sale, a condition of the purchase is that the developers then release a five-acre piece of land they own at Abbey Park Road, selling it at market value to the Government for the development of a proposed new free school in Leicester.

The Southfields and Newry schools closed down more than 10 years ago, with the site being under-used since. The buildings are beyond economic use.

The city council has also been looking for sites close to the city centre where a new free school could be built. Grange Developments’ site on Abbey Park Road has been identified, but the developers want to buy replacement land for residential development if they are to sell their land at Abbey Park Road.

City mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This deal is extremely good news for the city. It will mean a redundant site in Eyres Monsell is brought back into use, providing new affordable homes for the city. These homes will then be rented to people on our council housing register.”

The deal could also mean a proposed new free school could get the go-ahead. Under Government rules, councils are limited in their abilities to build new schools, but still have a responsibility to ensure there are enough pupil places.

The site is more suitable for a free school than the land in Eyres Monsell, because pupil places that are close to the city centre are more easily accessible by students from all parts of Leicester.

The sale of the land in Eyres Monsell is also subject to further conditions, including getting satisfactory planning consent, the developer finding a social housing landlord to work with, and the developer starting work within six months of purchase. The council will have a right to buy back the land for £1 if this is not achieved.

Leicester’s adopted core strategy has identified a need for more than 25,000 new homes to be built in the city by 2026.