English Partnerships set to approve first ever high-density housing scheme on former coal board land.
Regeneration quango English Partnerships is set to give the go-ahead to a landmark £40m housing scheme on former National Coal Board land at Meden Valley in the East Midlands.

It is understood that EP has agreed in principle to allocate £7m to the project, which is believed to be the first to use high-density housing to regenerate derelict coalfield land. A source close to EP said: "EP is going through the early stages of approval."

The project, near Mansfield, will result in the refurbishment or construction of 900 homes by 2005. The Meden Valley Partnership hopes to sell the land to a housebuilder by the end of this year after the appointment of a masterplanner in the summer.

An EP spokesperson would not confirm the amount the organisation intended to allocate to the project, but said the issue had reached board level. She added that it was not decided when EP would send the DTLR its recommendations.

Branded under the "Making Places" banner, the scheme has the support of the East Midlands Development Agency, which has allocated £5.5m to it. However, a final go-ahead has still to be achieved at board level.

EMDA chairman Derek Mapp said: "To my knowledge, this is the first scheme in England to introduce housing to coalfield land on this scale. It recognises that housing is essential to ensure the sustainability of regeneration at coalfield sites."

This is the first scheme to introduce housing to coalfield land

Derek Mapp, chairman, EMDA

Carmel Heathcote, regeneration manager at the Meden Valley Partnership, said the scheme was gathering momentum. She said:

"We are pleased the scheme is going forward. We are awaiting final approval from EP, the DTLR and EMDA."

The scheme is one of a number of housing regeneration projects that have been hit by long delays. All eight of the government's flagship PFI housing schemes are behind schedule, and Meden Valley, which is likely to use a traditional procurement route, has been delayed by nine months.

This is partly due to a recent government review into the future of EP. Sources close to the project said it was difficult for EP to approve a scheme while its own role was under government scrutiny.