THERE is hope that new homes in a major regeneration will still be built in Southampton despite a developer pulling out over rising costs.

Southampton City Council will now open up two plots at Townhill Park to affordable homes providers after Drew Smith pulled out of the plan.

It's hoped one of the providers will build the homes at plots two and nine. Just 56 flats have been built by the council at Townhill Park since 2018.

During the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee meeting, council leader Cllr Lorna Fielker, the leader of Southampton City Council, said: “We are about to go out with the mini tenders on plots five and six, which are due in February. We will evaluate that and move forward.

“It is important that everything doesn’t go out at the same time because we want to ensure everyone has an opportunity to look at what is available.

"It also takes a lot of resources from the organisation to respond to this to ensure they are given the time to do that as well.”

In late spring and early summer, mini tenders for plots two and nine will start with the hope of appointing the provider by the end of the year.

All houses delivered in the scheme are intended to be either shared ownership or social affordable rent.

However, until tenders and planning applications get through, the proportion of housing types will not be known.

The new developers will have access to the housing registration, planning approval and designs already in place to meet the demand of the city and the area.

The four housing providers appointed to work with SCC under the affordable homes framework are Abri Group, Hyde Group, Sovereign Housing Association and Stonewater Ltd.

Although they can present designs as they prefer, the council has already set up the criteria of what it wants to achieve with the project.

Cllr Fielker said that “ideologically” she prefers that all houses should be social housing but said it is something that “probably” won’t happen.

Councillor Jeremy Moulton said: “Regeneration... is absolutely the right thing to do. No one should take away from this.

“The lesson to be learned is to do it properly. We’ve got examples of doing it properly. But we also have a whole series of failures; this one was a catastrophic failure. It took 12 years to get where we are today.

“I think in this report you settle on the right approach […] You are doing the right thing now, and hopefully this now leads to some speedy development.”

One plot, plot 10, isn’t included in the special framework and the council said this is a “strategic” approach.

Cllr Fielker said the council might consider switching to the framework scheme in the future but are exploring options which might see houses built quicker first.

Cllr Fielker said: “Plot 10 is a really simple site, and it is not complicated or complex, which is why we are looking to see if we can do something a bit quicker there”.

But Cllr Moulton said: “Just to say you had 12 years. If it is that simple, some people would live there.”

Cllr Fielker said she is confident Townhill Park regeneration “will be a success”.

The cabinet is set to approve the recommendation to sell plots two and nine as freeholds to the development partners as part of the affordable homes framework.