First parcel of former Arjowiggins paper mill site in Ely, Wales released for sale, two more parcels to be marketed this year; not-for-profit organization Ely Bridge Development bought the 53-acre property in 2012 and wants to develop it for housing

, May 2, 2014 () – Earlier this week, agent DTZ released the first site of around 7.3 acres to be sold for housing development. Two further sites will be marketed later this year.

The paper mill, which dated back to the early 1870s, operated for more than 120 years before finally closing in 1999, when the site was purchased by the Welsh Development Agency.

The property has remained empty and undeveloped for more than a decade, and was offered for sale in March 2011.

In spring 2012, Ely Bridge Development Company, a joint-venture partnership between the Welsh Government and Principality Building Society, was formed and the company entered into a conditional land sale contract to buy the property.

The not-for-profit organisation wants to redevelop the 53-acre site into a new community, and plans to develop the site’s affordable housing, which will account for around 60% of the 750 homes planned.

The redevelopment will provide the largest urban regeneration scheme of its kind in Wales.

David Ward, chief executive of Ely Bridge Development Company, tells Rhiannon Bury how the venture aims to progress with the scheme.

How does the business model for this site work?

Ely Bridge Development Company is made up of a group of smaller companies, including an investment arm, which draws down debt from pension funds to build homes.

The Cardiff site is the first project we’ve done and the idea is that the sale of the land, which was launched this week, will fund, or part-fund, the building of affordable homes.

We’re expecting to achieve a price of at least £1m per acre, and we’ve got around 14 acres to sell.

What is the next stage for this project?

We hope to be on-site by early next year and the housebuilder or developer that buys the land will probably be on-site around six months after that. We’ve done the remediation work on the whole site, so the land is ready to go.

What other schemes is the company working on?

There are two other projects in early stages at the moment — we’ve got an arrangement to purchase the former Whitehead steel works in Newport, where we could develop between 400 and
450 homes.

We’re also looking at Eirin Park, a scheme in the Rhonda Valley, which could be used for around 260 homes. We haven’t finalised the business model for those sites yet, so that needs to be worked out.

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