Agency to reduce role of Gleeson–Miller in Yorkshire's millennium village in hope of beginning site work this year.
Regeneration agency English Partnerships is restructuring its deal with the consortium building the second millennium village in West Yorkshire to ensure that construction gets under way by the end of 2003.

The £60m Allerton Bywater project was supposed to be completed by April last year, but decontamination issues and protracted negotiations between EP and its preferred development partner, a joint venture between MJ Gleeson and Miller Homes, has meant that work has yet to begin on site.

The original plan was that Gleeson and Miller would build all 520 houses in the village and a proportion of the infrastructure.

As a result of the talks, it is likely that the joint venture will build only the first phase of 150 homes and that EP will build the infrastructure itself. The remaining units would go out to competitive tender, at which point Gleeson and Miller Homes would be able to bid again.

Duncan Innes, head of the millennium communities unit at EP, said the agency hoped to reach agreement on the new deal by the end of March, and that construction would start in September.

I think it will start getting off the ground this year

Tim Hough, Miller Homes

He said: "The whole site servicing work, such as roads and drainage, is something we are now proposing to do. We are also proposing that Miller and Gleeson build a chunky first phase, but some, not necessarily all, other phases go out to competition."

EP is hoping that the scheme will proceed more quickly if several developers are brought on board.

The village is likely to be divided into 13 or 14 land parcels of 30 to 70 units each. A 18,580 m2 commercial element will be put out to competitive tender by the summer.

Tim Hough, managing director of Miller Homes, welcomed the changes to the delivery process. He said that, as a result, the project would "start getting off the ground this year".

The 23 ha scheme was delayed by 12 months last May after the government changed the rules governing large chemical plants. Planning permission was granted only after EP paid for a storage facility for the Hickson and Welsh chemical factory.