BROWNFIELD sites in central Warrington must be used to create new housing developments, a top council boss says.

Steve Park, director of growth at Warrington Borough Council and managing director of Warrington and Co, has told the MIPIM 2019 international property expo in Cannes that thousands of homes could be built on derelict sites near to the town centre in the next decade.

A delegation from the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, including Mr Park, travelled to the French Riviera for the conference.

He told the LEP's Urban Living - Unlocking Opportunity event that affordable homes should be built on brownfield sites in central areas for 'professionals, young people, key workers and older people' - calling on the government for support to deliver these new housing schemes.

And the council must 'consider multiple approaches if it is to deliver much-needed new housing' in the town centre.

Mr Park said: "There is a real need for us to be able to exploit the brownfield development opportunities in central Warrington to build as many as 9,000 homes over the next 10 to 15 years.

"It's a residential environment that is still maturing and it needs to be viable for private sector investors who are currently finding this challenging in terms of returns on investment, so we need a range of tools to use to unlock sites that have been dormant for many years.

"One of those tools might be for the local authority to invest either in a straightforward way through a partnership with a provider, or to develop an income model where the local authority doesn’t put any money in but provides its covenant strength at a level where there is value available.

"There is, therefore, a clear role for central government in the delivery of these homes.

"They want 200,000 to be built across the UK each year for the next several years, but this ambitious target is heavily reliant on strong, long-term strategic and sustainable partnerships being established between government, local authorities, registered providers and the private sector.

"We need flexible grant intervention funding partnerships between local authorities and registered providers such as housing trusts and the local private sector as well.

"It's a pick and mix approach, a suite of options which will deliver the ambition for Warrington to provide the right homes for the right people in the right places."