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Housebuilding – first deals, hidden abodes and Gloucestershire homes

This mini housebuilding roundup features Lovell’s pledge to combat the housing shortage with refurbishment, and two ambitious deals from Pocket Living and Spitfire Homes to deliver more homes to Barking and Gloucestershire.

Housebuilder vows to tackle homelessness through refurbishment

The key to tackling the housing shortage is to maximise what we already have, including refurbishing empty homes.


That is according to Carl Yale, refurbishment director at housebuilder Lovell, who believes there is great potential in empty or under-used buildings around the country.

His view comes as homelessness charity Crisis warns that rough sleeping is on the rise, with data showing a 25% increase in London alone between April and June this year.

This data couples with many other homelessness organisations reporting an increase in people experiencing homelessness for the first time.

With the government’s furlough scheme and other pandemic support measures beginning to wind down, the coming months are predicted to see these trends rise further. 

Yale comments: “The ultimate aim is to help people get off the streets and into permanent homes, or to avoid them ending up rough sleeping to begin with. People may lose their home due to a number of factors – and in some cases may have no choice but to leave for their own safety.”

“This is why finding a way to ensure that local authorities have adequate, high-quality emergency accommodation will play a part in this process, providing safe housing for people as part of that process.”

Carl Yale, Refurbishment Director of Lovell

Yale explains classing empty buildings that need redeveloping or buildings that can be improved as “hidden homes” begins to hint at the value that refurbishment can add to local authorities, which can help them tackle the key social issues specific to their area – including any rises in rough sleeping. 

“This can be done through two major methods: building conversions and rooftop extensions,” he continues. “These methods come with their own challenges - from site constraints to existing utilities that may cause obstructions or need diverting or relocating – but the key thing is the increased speed at which this work can be completed compared to new builds.”

“The obvious benefit is that the buildings are already there, alleviating the need for land acquisition. Reforms to the planning system support this approach, allowing us to make the most of these hidden homes in months rather than years.”

He goes on to say: “Councils are commonly challenged with how to make the best use of their building stock. Revitalising these buildings does not just remove potential eyesores and put underutilised spaces back into effective use, it revitalises spaces that may be prone to anti-social behaviour and can also act as a multiplier effect – leading to further regeneration in the area.”

“With the support of built environment specialists, councils need to work out what to do with some of their existing stock to help meet the ever-increasing need for housing provision – and including refurbishments and rooftop developments to build “hidden homes” as part of their plans for housing development is a no brainer.”

Pocket Living secures £6.6m funding tie-up to push housing delivery

Affordable housing developer Pocket Living has secured a £6.6 million debt facility with Pluto Finance.

This represents the first deal with the financial provider, which is a 12-month facility secured against its Harbard Close asset in Barking. The deal is expected to accelerate the deployment of the funds to support the delivery of Pocket’s future schemes.

The new homes at Pocket’s 78-home Harbard Close development are available exclusively to first-time buyers who either live or work in London and earn under the Mayor of London’s income threshold for affordable housing.

The apartments are available from £192,000 – a minimum of a 20% discount to the local market, and purchasers own 100% of their property.

Paul Rickard, chief financial officer at Pocket Living, comments: “This new funding partnership with Pluto Finance will allow us to further accelerate the delivery of the homes we build specifically for first-time buyers in London, who otherwise might be priced out of their local market.”

“This commitment is a sign of confidence in Pocket as we look to build our 1,000th home this year and supports our ambitions for growth across London and beyond as part of our financial strategy.”

Greg Dunne, lending director at Pluto Finance, adds: “We are very impressed with Pocket Living’s innovative model to deliver much needed affordable housing. With the Harbard Close development, Pocket has once again demonstrated that it is possible to create good value flats without compromising on design or quality.”

Housebuilder begins work on 215 new homes in Gloucestershire

Spitfire Homes has commenced work on 215 new homes in Bishop’s Cleeve, Gloucestershire after securing the site and planning permission earlier this year.

The Midlands-based housebuilder acquired the 34-acre site, which includes plans for retail and commercial use alongside the new homes, in partnership with its parent company, IM Properties.

Following the deal, Spitfire launched a public consultation on its vision for the development, before securing planning from Tewkesbury Borough Council in July.

The site marks the first opportunity for Spitfire to showcase its newly introduced product range, targeting a broader market. Launched alongside a refreshed brand this Spring, the design-led energy-efficient homes will enable more prospective buyers to own a Spitfire home.

Construction is now underway on the one to five-bedroom properties, with the first homes due for completion in winter 2022.

Suitable for young professionals, downsizers, couples and families alike, each property in the collection will combine traditionally-inspired design with the latest interior trends to create homes fit for modern lifestyles.

The village of Bishop’s Cleeve sits on the outskirts of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while benefitting from easy access to Cheltenham and Gloucester, creating a well-balanced lifestyle proposition for buyers.

Ben Leather, managing director at Spitfire Homes, comments: “We are particularly excited to start work on our Bishop’s Cleeve development as it will be the introduction of our new house designs.”

“Spitfire’s plans for this development reflect our aspiration to deliver stylish and contemporary residences fit for modern living for more people across the Midlands, in response to the ever-increasing demand for our homes.”

He adds: “This collection will have a broad range which will see it become a vibrant neighbourhood for families, first-time buyers and downsizers, all benefiting from its stunning countryside surroundings and strong connectivity.”

The village of Bishop’s Cleeve sits on the outskirts of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while benefitting from easy access to Cheltenham and Gloucester, creating a well-balanced lifestyle proposition for buyers.

Details of plans and prices for Bishop’s Cleeve will be released in early 2022. For more information, visit https://spitfirehomes.co.uk.


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