Three million new social homes needed – Stoke gets started

First-time public-private partnership pitches major building programme, as Social Housing Commission says England needs three million new social homes.

construction

The Social Housing Commission had pitched a need for three million new social homes to be built in England over 20 years – so Stoke gets started.

A partnership between Cheyne Capital’s Social Property Impact Fund, Homes England and Stoke-on-Trent City Council is set to deliver a £40m housing regeneration programme.

This is the first time that such a public-private initiative has been introduced in Stoke, and will result in the development of 379 affordable new homes – pitched as a demonstration of how effective combining socially responsible capital with councils and government agencies can be in addressing the UK’s housing needs.

The homes will be built on cleared brownfield land and at an outdated housing scheme.

For over a year, the council has been working with residents in the Hanley area of the city, using their feedback to develop plans for rented housing, one-bed apartments for older people and family housing. The redeveloped site will also include more car parking, improved waste management facilities, extra security, and landscaping.

It will mean a total of 155 low rise flats and maisonettes being cleared – more than half of which are already empty – at a 1960s housing estate, being replaced with 226 new apartments.

At a second site in the Shelton area of the city, brownfield land that had been vacant for a number of years will be brought back to life with 51 apartments and 62 houses being built.

The developments will create a net gain of 224 new high quality affordable homes, with the development collectively complete by 2024.

Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “This project is really exciting. We have worked in a completely new and innovative way to put forward a programme of work that will deliver the multi-million pound regeneration of two areas of the city in need of attention.

“It is a project that we do not have the public funds available to lead alone; but by working collaboratively with the private sector we can raise the quality of accommodation and life of hundreds of families, and rejuvenate communities.”

The initiative will see the council establish its own company to be a registered provider of affordable housing, which will enable it to access grant support from government agency Homes England.

Cheyne Capital will use its Social Property Impact Fund, which has delivered similar housing projects with councils and housing associations in Bristol, Luton and Sheffield.

With Cheyne Capital buying the land and funding the development and build at the two sites, and the council leasing-back the properties over 40 years, the scheme will cost a total of £40m.

The council’s housing repairs and maintenance company, Unitas, will be responsible for maintaining the properties.

At the end of the lease period, the council will then have the opportunity to buy the properties for £1.

The properties will be eligible for Homes England funding, to help ensure they can be available at an affordable rent.

Caroline Cormack, head of home ownership and supply in the Midlands for Homes England, said: “We welcome Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s ambitions for this development and are excited to be working with them to explore the best solutions for both of these sites to accommodate the housing needs of the local communities.”

The works are the latest in a series of high-profile housing-led regeneration schemes in the city led by the local authority.

The council has already refurbished three of its five high-rise residential blocks at the Hanley site, and the remaining two high-rise blocks will be redeveloped as supported living accommodation.

In addition, the council has identified seven housing zones on brownfield sites in the city.

Construction is already underway at two of the sites, and last week the authority’s housing company Fortior Homes announced it is starting on site at a third. The housing zones will create 1,200 new homes.

Fortior Homes is also seven months in to building the city’s first high-end city centre apartments in the Smithfield business district, creating 151 homes for professionals that will further boost the city centre economy.

Darren Carter, Investment Director for Social Property at Cheyne Capital, said: “We know that partnering socially responsible capital with councils and government agencies can accelerate the delivery of high quality, affordable and inclusive homes to communities that need them most.

“We were impressed by Stoke-on-Trent Council’s progressive attitude towards addressing their housing needs and are excited to be involved in this landmark project.”

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