Up to 16,000 homes could be built on the 970ha site in joint venture with housing association Places for People

A joint venture between developer Land Securities and housing association Places for People is to buy the 970ha site earmarked for the expansion of Harlow in Essex for a nine-figure sum.

Landowner Ropemaker Properties, a subsidiary of oil giant BP’s pension fund, will sell the site to the 50:50 joint venture if the expansion is approved in the regional spatial strategy later this year.

The deal is thought to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds. At the start of last year the government proposed allowing between 10,000 and 16,000 homes on the site, in contradiction to the recommendation of the planning inspectorate.

A final decision on the East of England regional spatial strategy is expected in the summer. Land Securities and Places for People said that they will make a further statement on the deal following publication of the strategy.