Two areas of inner city Leeds that have been on the receiving end of “regeneration” projects are in the running as possible sites for new council homes.
Leeds City Council has drawn up a shortlist of 10 mostly brownfield sites that could be used in the first phase of a new programme of council house building that gets under way later this year – and the Garnets in Beeston and St Hildas in Cross Green are both on it.
Both sites were left with a mix of boarded up homes and cleared land after “regeneration” projects stalled well into the demolition phase.
Now they could finally end up with at least some of the new housing they were promised, courtesy of the biggest programme of council-house building that Leeds has seen for a long while: around 105 homes are planned to be built over the next three years at a cost of £10.88m.
That’s 35 a year.
On site work could get under way as early as November this year.
Senior councillors are set to endorse the latest plans for the programme – including the shortlist – at a meeting next Wednesday (9th January), when they’re also expected to approve the injection of a further £1.38m into the programme’s kitty, to add to the £9.5m they earmarked in September.
Homes for the elderly and “bedroom tax” downsizers
A report going to the meeting for approval says that the new homes will be one-bedroom properties* (but see note at bottom) and will target the housing needs of the elderly and people affected by the new housing benefit “bedroom tax” that comes into force in April.
Latest estimates put the number of Leeds council tenants affected by that element of the government’s welfare reforms at 6,700, with 423 households having already asked for a transfer to a one-bedroom property, the report says.
“The implementation of local lettings policies in relation to the proposed development of units in order to prioritise (council) tenants currently under-occupying could lead to the release of 2 and 3 bedroomed properties, thus making more efficient use of existing Council stock,” it adds.
“Resolve outstanding regeneration aspirations”
The shortlist of potential sites doesn’t strictly mirror the areas where the council has identified the greatest need for one-bedroom council homes.
Lack of available council-owned land has meant that areas like Morley and Pudsey – where demand is highest – have barely made it on to the list.
Justifying the inclusion of the Garnets and St Hildas, the report says:
“Some sites provide an opportunity to resolve outstanding regeneration aspirations. For example the Garnets in Beeston and St Hildas in Cross Green where ongoing clearance schemes were curtailed by government funding cuts in 2010. Ward members (local councillors) are keen to see the redevelopment of the resultant cleared sites to achieve some regeneration benefit for these areas.”
The other 8 potential sites are: Broadlea Street, Bramley; Mistress Lane, Armley; Harley Green, Swinnow; Bradford Rd, Tingley; Parkwood Rd, Beeston; Beech Mount, Gipton; Beech Walk, Gipton; East Park Road, East End Park.
All 10 sites will be further investigated “in order to determine the most appropriate in terms of deliverability and location to achieve a rapid start on site”.
“It is anticipated that subject to planning approval a start on site on the first phase of development could be expected by November 2013,” the report says.
To put the 35-house-a-year programme in context, the council says the city needs 1,158 new affordable homes each year to meet predicted demand.
(* note – presumably because it doesn’t want to be saddled with more one-bedroom properties than it needs at a later date, the council is planning to build a certain amount of flexibility into the design of the new homes.
“The aim will be to deliver homes designed with an eye to flexibility of room use and layout in order to withstand changes in demand over time in the event that further amendments to social policy are implemented…
“Homes built to address current needs should be of a design and standard flexible enough that over their lifetime they continue to meet aspirations in the event that occupation restrictions change as a result of a change in social policy,” the report says.)