A housing development company wholly owned by Manchester City Council was formally launched late last week (Friday February 4) in order to accelerate the number of new homes available to local residents.
The company – called This City – will focus on developing schemes with high-quality, low-carbon homes, and aims to deliver a mix of accessible rent and market properties, with the latter helping to subsidise the development of homes priced at or below the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate. This, the firm says, means they will be accessible to people in receipt of housing benefit.
A development site on Rodney Street in Ancoats, next to Manchester’s hip Northern Quarter, has been unveiled as the first project by the new company. Wates Construction has been appointed as the lead contractor responsible for delivering the 128 apartments and townhouses, 30% of which will be for accessible rent.
The council insists all future This City developments will include a minimum of 20% accessible rented homes on completion, available at or below the Local Housing Allowance level.
This City is described as being a new concept that will allow the council to take control of part of the affordable housing delivery pipeline for the city and has the ambition to scale up to deliver up to 500 new homes each year.
Manchester is currently on track to exceed its ambitious target to help build 6,400 new affordable homes between 2015 and 2025 – accounting for at least 20% of the city’s pipeline of 32,000 homes. Over 7,000 affordable homes are now expected to be built by 2025.
The Rodney Street development will aim to include high-quality facilities for residents, with public green space accessible to all being a key element of the final proposals, ‘complementing the wider public realm proposals for the local area’.
The site also forms part of a coordinated phase of development by the City Council, Manchester Life Development Company and Great Places across four underused sites in the Poland Street area of Ancoats and two sites in New Islington. This is to deliver over 400 new homes to meet a range of housing needs in support of Manchester's housing requirements, and space for more local businesses and the community.
This latest phase builds on recent regeneration successes to further the evolution of Ancoats into a sustainable neighbourhood ‘that is even more attractive to people and families keen to settle and stay in the area’.
A consultation is open now about the Rodney Street scheme and will remain open until February 27. Planning applications for the Rodney Street site are expected to be submitted this summer.
Cllr Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester has some ambitious and radical plans to see more homes built in our city that everyone can afford. Every resident in our city should have access to a good quality home and Manchester is leading the way in building our own homes as part of this.”
She added: “Seeing more homes at accessible rent is a real challenge in the city centre, so we’re building our own. That’s why I’m really pleased to launch This City with the development plan for Rodney Street, helping to meet demand for accessible rent homes.
Cllr Gavin White, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and employment, said: “Our bottom line is that everyone in this city deserves a safe, secure and decent home, and as Manchester continues to grow, we also need to increase the number of affordable rent and low carbon homes for Manchester people on lower incomes.”
He added: “This City will help us meet this demand, giving us a development vehicle for the first time to deliver the homes the city needs on our own terms.”
Meanwhile, Dave Saville, regional director for Wates Construction North West, said: “We are excited to transform this currently unused plot of land into sustainable, accessible homes that put local people first. We will be working closely with Manchester City Council, the local supply chain and residents to develop designs that meet the needs of Mancunians and deliver a legacy that lasts.
He added: “The Rodney Street development will not only help us to tackle the UK’s housing shortage, but through innovative methods of construction it will also support Manchester and its residents in reducing their energy consumption and contributing to a more sustainable future.